Man gets coronavirus after sharing ward in SGH with case who later tests positive; hospital reviews its processes

The man, Case 126, had been in the same ward as Case 109 in Singapore General Hospital on Feb 28, 2020.
The man, Case 126, had been in the same ward as Case 109 in Singapore General Hospital on Feb 28, 2020.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

A 77-year-old Singaporean man, who shared a ward with another patient who later tested positive for Covid-19, was reported to have contracted the virus.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) said yesterday that the man, Case 126, had been in the same ward as Case 109 in Singapore General Hospital (SGH) last Saturday and Sunday.

On Monday afternoon, it was confirmed that Case 109, a 70-year-old Singaporean man, had been infected with Covid-19.

MOH had said on Tuesday that Case 109 went to SGH last Saturday and was "isolated" in a ward with greater separation.

MOH director of medical services Kenneth Mak said it is still investigating the possibility that Case 126 contracted the virus from Case 109.

"But that is obviously a concern that we have when two patients in the same ward are diagnosed with the infection over a short period of time," said Associate Professor Mak.

"We have asked SGH to look into their processes to make sure that there were no lapses, no breaches of their processes and to ensure that patient safety is not compromised," he added.

SGH's head of infectious diseases Tan Thuan Tong said Case 109 and 126 were put in the same ward before the former was diagnosed with the coronavirus.

He said patients who do not meet case definitions for Covid-19 but have respiratory tract infections are put in designated wards to protect other patients at hospitals.

 
 
 
 

"The reason why (Case 126) was in the same ward was (that) as part of the enhanced precautions, patients who have acute respiratory infection will be placed in wards with greater separation between patients to minimise the risk of infection."

He said in such wards, each bed is almost 3m apart from the other.

"In this ward, we also ask patients to put on masks, we ask them to practise social distancing," he added. "Moving forward, I think we will look at our processes."

Associate Professor Tan said another patient who shared the ward with the two cases is currently well.

The 77-year-old man has been quarantined since Wednesday and was confirmed to be infected on Thursday. He is now in an isolation room at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 07, 2020, with the headline 'Man infected after sharing ward with case who later tests positive'. Print Edition | Subscribe