45 buses deployed to ferry Covid-19 patients

Above: Bus driver Francis Lim, 53, had to undergo training on the use of personal protective equipment and decontamination procedures for buses. Right: Twenty buses from SMRT have been specially retrofitted. Below: The driver and passengers are separ
Bus driver Francis Lim, 53, had to undergo training on the use of personal protective equipment and decontamination procedures for buses. PHOTOS: SMRT
Above: Bus driver Francis Lim, 53, had to undergo training on the use of personal protective equipment and decontamination procedures for buses. Right: Twenty buses from SMRT have been specially retrofitted. Below: The driver and passengers are separ
Twenty buses from SMRT have been specially retrofitted. PHOTOS: SMRT
Above: Bus driver Francis Lim, 53, had to undergo training on the use of personal protective equipment and decontamination procedures for buses. Right: Twenty buses from SMRT have been specially retrofitted. Below: The driver and passengers are separ
The driver and passengers are separated by an airtight divider, with each section having its own air-conditioning system so as to reduce the risk of infection for drivers. PHOTOS: SMRT

About 45 buses transport up to 600 Covid-19 patients daily, and the fleet is set to expand to 60 in the coming weeks.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) said yesterday that the buses have been taking the patients from hospitals and foreign worker dormitories to community care facilities, such as the Singapore Expo.

Such facilities are for the care of patients who are either clinically well and no longer require acute care or newly confirmed cases with mild symptoms who do not require extensive medical treatment.

The buses ferrying the patients are arranged by MOH, the Singapore Armed Forces and the Singapore Civil Defence Force.

MOH said the buses currently transporting an estimated 400 to 600 patients daily are contracted from commercial operators.

Five of the buses come from public transport operator SMRT, which has worked with other organisations to modify 20 buses to specially transfer the patients.

MOH said: "The rest of SMRT's retrofitted buses will be progressively deployed over the coming weeks to join the current fleet in transporting patients.

"All these bus drivers are trained in the proper use of personal protective equipment and decontamination procedures for the buses to ensure the safety of passengers and driver."

At a virtual media event showcasing the modified buses on Tuesday, SMRT said the vehicles are designed to reduce the risk of infection for drivers.

The driver and passengers are located in two compartments separated by an airtight divider, with each having its own air-conditioning system. In addition, the air in the passengers' compartment is regulated.

SMRT Roads president Tan Kian Heong said: "The buses are from the operational spare pool, so we have taken out these buses without affecting the public transport bus services."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 14, 2020, with the headline '45 buses deployed to ferry Covid-19 patients'. Subscribe