Singapore hospitals tighten rules for those who have visited TTSH

People who visited Tan Tock Seng Hospital seen at the swabbing centre in Pasir Ris on May 3, 2021. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Hospitals are imposing stricter restrictions on people who have visited Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) recently, in the light of the growing cluster there.

At the weekend, hospitals started to decline entry to visitors, as well as those accompanying patients, if they had been to TTSH wards from April 18. This follows guidance that the hospitals received from the Ministry of Health.

Hospitals are also on the lookout for patients who have been discharged from or have visited TTSH wards on or after April 18, and then wish to visit specialist outpatient clinics at other hospitals here.

These patients may be able to be reviewed via teleconsultation.

If not, urgent cases may be seen in a room that separates them from other patients, while non-urgent cases may be postponed for at least two weeks from the time they last visited TTSH, The Straits Times understands.

Meanwhile, the TTSH cluster has grown to 35 cases. The hospital has tested all inpatients and 7,000 out of 12,000 staff, and will next be swabbing staff in clinical areas.

By last Friday, the cluster had resulted in the hospital locking down four wards and putting 76 staff on leave of absence while they await quarantine orders. TTSH has since put more than 200 staff on leave of absence.

The hospital has halted elective procedures and stopped admitting new patients, to focus on containing the spread and caring for existing patients.

Hospitals have posted about their entry restrictions on social media.

Professor Fong Kok Yong, SingHealth's deputy group chief executive of medical and clinical services, said that since last Saturday, visitors, caregivers or accompanying persons who have been admitted to or visited TTSH wards from April 18 will not be allowed into its institutions. This does not apply to patients.

The National University Hospital also posted on Facebook that the waiting time at its emergency department will be longer than usual.

Meanwhile, hospitals - including some private ones - are chipping in to share the patient load.

The Straits Times understands that these include Mount Elizabeth (Orchard), Gleneagles Hospital and Parkway East Hospital.

They have activated their Covid-19 wards and some patients have apparently already moved there.

Last year, IHH Healthcare Singapore, which operates the hospitals, set aside 70 beds for Covid-19 patients to help Singapore battle the outbreak.

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