ICU capacity to be ramped up; Covid-19 treatment facilities to have 3,700 beds by end-Oct: Ong Ye Kung

Four Covid-19 treatment facilities, for higher-risk patients who require close observation but not hospital care, have been set up in the past week. PHOTO: MOH

SINGAPORE - The capacity at hospitals and treatment facilities is being ramped up to deal with the latest wave of cases, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung on Saturday (Oct 2).

While there are 34 Covid-19 patients in the intensive care unit (ICU), the occupancy is expected to rise as there is a time lag before rising infection numbers translate into appearances of severe illness, he said.

Hence, the current 134 ICU beds will be increased to 180, he said at a press conference held by the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19.

The next tier is hospital beds supplemented by beds in Covid-19 treatment facilities (CTFs), which have resources such as oxygen supplementation.

The CTFs are meant for higher-risk patients who need close observation, but do not need hospital care.

Over the past week, four CTFs have been set up with a capacity of 580 beds. This is being ramped up further to nine CTFs, with an overall capacity of about 3,700 beds by the end of October.

This includes another 700 CTF beds to be set up at the Singapore Expo and 200 another CTF beds at Sengkang Hospital, said Mr Ong.

More beds will also be set up at Yishun and Ren Ci community hospitals this month.

"If we can do that, we can place patients away from hospital settings into the CTFs and therefore ameliorate the crunch at the hospital end," said Mr Ong.

Another tier is community care facilities (CCFs), which house those who are well, but who have to be isolated from their families. There are 4,300 CCF beds now, said the minister.

The final tier is homes for the home recovery programme.

Mr Ong said of the hotline for those on the programme: "We are aware that many patients on home recovery tried to call through and this is an area we are immediately beefing up resources on."

He added: "We have also ramped up our telemedicine services, bringing on more providers, including our primary care providers."

Singapore has seen a rise in cases recently. On Friday, there were 2,909 new Covid-19 infections reported, with eight deaths.

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Four tiers in system to provide care for Covid-19 patients

Tier 1: Intensive Care Unit (ICU)

• For the most severe cases

• 34 cases currently in ICUs

• 134 beds already set up, with the number set to increase to 180 beds

Tier 2: Covid-19 Treatment Facilities (CTFs)

• Set up to complement hospital beds

• 10 per cent of patients are in CTFs and hospitals

• Currently, four CTFs have been set up with a total capacity of 580 beds

• There will be nine CTFs, with an overall capacity of about 3,700 beds, by the end of this month

Tier 3: Community Care Facilities (CCFs)

• To house those who are actually well, but for various reasons need to be isolated from the rest of their family

• 20 per cent of patients are in CCFs

• Currently, 4,300 CCF beds are available

Tier 4: Home Recovery

• 52 per cent to 56 per cent, or over half, of Covid-19 patients are recovering at home

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