Patients, visitors not worried about Covid-19 cluster as Changi General Hospital steps up measures

Currently, each patient is allowed only one registered visitor in general wards, outpatient clinics and centres.
Currently, each patient is allowed only one registered visitor in general wards, outpatient clinics and centres.ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE - Patients and visitors continued to make their way to Changi General Hospital (CGH) on Wednesday (June 30), with four out of five people interviewed saying they were not worried about a recent cluster of Covid-19 cases linked to the hospital.

When The Straits Times (ST) visited the hospital, all visitors and patients were subject to a strict process of registration and temperature taking.

They were also required to fill in a form declaring if they have travelled abroad in the past 14 days or have any flu-like symptoms.

The form also asks visitors and patients whether they are currently serving stay-home notice, a quarantine order or under surveillance by the Ministry of Health (MOH), or have had close contact recently with a person with Covid-19.

So far, a total of 13 Covid-19 cases have been linked to CGH. They include porters and a health assistant who work at the hospital.

However, details of three of the cases that were announced on Tuesday are not known, as MOH no longer provides details on new Covid-19 cases detected in the community.

CGH also declined to comment on the three cases, but ST understands they are not staff or patients of the hospital.

On Monday, CGH said it has stepped up measures since the first staff member under the cluster tested positive for Covid-19.

These include proactive surveillance swab testing to detect infections early, and placing staff who are close contacts of Covid-19 cases on quarantine orders or on leave of absence, the hospital said in a statement.

Currently, each patient is allowed only one registered visitor in general wards, outpatient clinics and centres, and in the accident and emergency department at CGH. Visits are also limited to 20 minutes.

But no visitors are allowed for patients suspected or confirmed to have Covid-19. Despite the CGH cluster, business appeared to be as usual on Wednesday afternoon at the hospital, with a steady stream of visitors and patients.

A patient, who visited CGH to change his dressing for a leg injury, said he is not worried about getting Covid-19.

"It's normal nowadays - there are cases everywhere in Singapore, and this is just one of them," said the 65-year-old retiree, who wanted to be known only as Mr Chin.

"Covid-19 is just a slightly more serious disease than the flu," he added.

A 20-year-old full-time national serviceman at CGH for a CT scan as part of a check-up said he was worried about the recent Covid-19 cases at the hospital.

Giving his name only as Mr Chua, he said that he tried not to touch any surfaces as a precaution. "The measures in place should be enough," he added.

A cleaner working at CGH, who did not want to be named, said measures for staff have become stricter recently.

"When we talk or eat, we must be 1m apart. Sometimes when we makan (Malay for "eat"), our supervisor will come and check," said the 75-year-old who is fully vaccinated.

He added that previously, he needed to be tested for Covid-19 only once every two weeks, but this has been changed recently to every day.

"I'm not worried about getting Covid-19. I just pray to God. If it happens to me, then it will happen to me," he added.