Coronavirus pandemic

Coronavirus: Protection for healthcare staff in Singapore adequate so far

Staff at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases on Feb 14, 2020.
Staff at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases on Feb 14, 2020.PHOTO: ST FILE

Measures to protect Singapore's healthcare workers from getting Covid-19 have so far been effective, going by the early results of an ongoing study at three public hospitals.

The study, involving 1,096 healthcare staff at National University Hospital (NUH), Tan Tock Seng Hospital and the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID), found none of them showed signs of having been infected with the coronavirus.

This was despite the fact that about half of them were front-line workers caring for Covid-19 patients or working in areas with some risk of exposure to the virus, while the other half were largely administrative staff and those caring for non-Covid-19 patients.

"This provides strong evidence that infection control and prevention procedures in Singapore's public hospitals have been adequate to protect front-line healthcare workers," the NCID said yesterday.

The study was carried out from February to early this month, and is set to continue until the third quarter of next year. It will be expanded to include healthcare workers from other institutions, such as other hospitals, polyclinics and primary care providers in the private sector.

The NCID said the study, which tests for antibodies in blood samples, is one of the first of its kind to be done on healthcare workers. It will evaluate the impact of varying levels of exposure to the virus and whether protection measures continue to be adequate, it added.

The final results of the study will be shared with the Health Ministry as well as infection control and prevention professionals, both in Singapore and overseas, to boost protection measures for healthcare workers.

Associate Professor Raymond Seet, a neurologist at NUH who is co-leading the study, said: "As we are still in the early phase of the pandemic in Singapore, all healthcare workers should continue to use the appropriate personal protective equipment at work and take active measures to prevent acquiring the virus from the community."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 30, 2020, with the headline 'Protection for healthcare staff in Singapore adequate so far'. Subscribe