SINGAPORE - Singapore's first confirmed patient with the Wuhan virus is being kept in isolation at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) rather than at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) because all public hospitals are capable of treating such cases.
Any suspected case who turn up at a public hospital - like this man did - will be treated on site.
The man, a Chinese national, is from Wuhan which is the epicentre of the current outbreak of the infectious disease. He arrived in Singapore on Monday for a holiday and later felt sick.
He and his son – who is also a confirmed case now – decided to go straight to a hospital.
SGH is the nearest one to their hotel – Shangri-La’s Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa. They took a taxi and the Ministry of Health (MOH) has been trying to trace the driver.
When severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) hit Singapore in 2003, Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) was designated as the treatment centre and was closed to all new non-Sars related patients. All patients with Sars were sent to TTSH for treatment.
Today, only suspect cases identified at the airport, general practitioner clinics and polyclinics are sent to the emergency department at TTSH, where they are assessed.
If someone is suspected to be carrying the Wuhan virus by a TTSH emergency department doctor, the patient will be warded at the NCID, which has 124 negative pressure (NEP) rooms - the largest number in any healthcare facility.
NEP rooms have air flowing in but not out. The air is sucked out of the room through hepa filters and then treated with ultraviolet rays before being released into the atmosphere.
All major public hospitals in Singapore have isolation rooms so patients with suspected infectious diseases will not spread them to others.
Patients who turn up at other hospitals will have samples taken.
If the patient has a coronavirus infection, the swabs are sent to the National Public Health Laboratory which is sited at the NCID, which has the facilities and staff trained to deal with dangerous pathogens.
There are seven coronavirus, including the new one from Wuhan, which are transmitted from person to person.
The others are the ones that cause Sars, Mers and four strains of the common cold.