Four TTSH wards locked down over new Covid-19 cluster. What does a lockdown entail?

When a ward is locked down, there are strict restrictions on entry into the ward, and further patients will not be admitted, said TTSH CEO Eugene Soh.
When a ward is locked down, there are strict restrictions on entry into the ward, and further patients will not be admitted, said TTSH CEO Eugene Soh.PHOTO: THE STRAITS TIMES

SINGAPORE - Four wards have been locked down at Tan Tock Seng Hospital following the detection of a Covid-19 cluster that includes 13 patients and staff members so far.

The hospital’s chief executive Eugene Soh said that the decision to lockdown these wards depended on patient movements, or whether there was an earlier confirmed case in that ward. 

The four wards are: 7D, 9C, 9D and 10B.

Responding to a question raised at the multi-ministry press conference on why a 57-year-old male patient was transferred from Ward 7D to Ward 9D, even after he developed Covid-19 symptoms, Associate Professor Kenneth Mak said that he was kept under observation initially in Ward 7D, and was transferred once a bed became available in Ward 9D. This happened on April 20.

He had taken a Covid-19 test two days earlier (April 18) which came back negative.

As a precautionary measure, all staff and patients in Ward 7D were tested for Covid-19, even though the patient had only spent a day there, to ensure that there was no spread of infection within the ward.

So far, the tests for this ward had not yielded any positive results, Prof Mak added.

Eight of the 13 Covid-19 cases in the TTSH cluster are patients, while five are staff.

Seven of the patients were admitted to Ward 9D while one had been admitted to Ward 9C, which has similarly been placed under lockdown.

Dr Soh said: “When a ward is locked down, there is no in-or-out movement from that ward, so there are restricted movements for both patients and staff.” 

He added that exceptions are made for “very essential testing”, such as requiring a test in the hospital’s radiology department. 
But even then, “full precautions” are taken in moving these patients, and no further patients will be admitted to the ward, given the strict restrictions on entry, said Dr Soh.

He was responding to a question raised on what it means when the wards are locked down, and if patients who are staying in these wards would be at risk of getting Covid-19. 

There is also a dedicated group of staff looking after the patients in the ward, said Dr Soh, and the staff will take extra precautions to ensure they can care for the affected patients while protecting themselves. 

He added that the hospital will have to monitor them very closely to pick up any spread within the ward very quickly and contain it as soon as possible. 
Close contacts of cases in the locked down wards will be isolated, he added.

The first swab tests have been carried out within the four wards under lockdown and all have been negative so far, said Dr Soh, though he noted that they are not yet out of the “risk period” and will continue to be monitored.

Read next - Covid-19 cluster at Tan Tock Seng Hospital: What we know so far