7 wards closed in 6 hospitals in recent weeks as 130 Covid-19 cases detected among staff, patients

Currently, about 15 per cent of the hospital beds in the acute public sector hospitals are used for Covid-19 patients. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Seven wards in six acute public hospitals here have been closed in the two weeks leading up to the latest barring of visitors to hospital wards here that began last Friday (Sept 24), said the Ministry of Health (MOH).

This came as 130 hospital staff, and patients who were admitted to the affected hospitals for non-Covid-19 ailments tested positive for the virus in the same period, the ministry said on Wednesday.

The affected hospital staff include both clinical and support ancillary staff, MOH said in response to queries from The Straits Times about the latest hospital visitation restrictions.

"Currently, about 15 per cent of the hospital beds in the acute public sector hospitals are used for Covid-19 patients," said the ministry.

MOH said hospitals have cross-deployed staff from other areas within the hospital to mitigate the impact on staffing levels due to the infected staff.

"This is done in strict adherence to infection control measures, including the donning of appropriate personal protective equipment," it said.

"All patient-facing staff are also enrolled in frequent surveillance testing to detect any infection early and prevent transmission in the hospitals."

Fewer than 1 per cent of all staff in public hospitals were placed on leave of absence, stay-home notice, quarantine order or health risk warning for the period from Sept 13 to Sept 19, said MOH.

Visits to hospital wards have been disallowed for four weeks from Sept 24 to Oct 23 due to more Covid-19 cases being detected among hospital staff, patients and visitors, the ministry said last week.

The detection of cases among hospital staff had necessitated ward closures and quarantines, which have put a strain on hospital bed capacity and staffing at a time when more beds are needed to care for hospitalised Covid-19 patients, MOH said last week in explaining the need for the stoppage to ward visits.

Only specific patient groups are exempted on a case-by-case basis - such as those who are very ill or mothers about to give birth - and all approved visitors have to produce a valid negative antigen rapid test or polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test result obtained within the last 24 hours of each visit.

"Our hospitals continue to provide services to the public and to care for patients with Covid-19 and non-Covid-19 medical conditions," said an MOH spokesman.

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