Coronavirus: NCID urges public to refrain from walking in, seek care at clinics first

The National Centre for infectious Diseases urged members of public to first seek care at the Public Health Preparedness Clinics if they are unwell.
The National Centre for infectious Diseases urged members of public to first seek care at the Public Health Preparedness Clinics if they are unwell.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - The National Centre for infectious Diseases (NCID) has urged members of the public to refrain from going to its screening centre without doctor referrals after unusually long queues at the facility on Monday (March 16).

When contacted by The Straits Times, it said some people have been seeking Covid-19 testing without appointments or prior consultation with clinics. Others have also stood in line to request for certification to return to work, travel or for other non-medical related issues, services the NCID screening centre does not provide.

"We urge members of public to first seek care at the Public Health Preparedness Clinics if they are unwell," NCID's spokesman said.

Public Health Preparedness Clinics refer to the network of 900 general practitioner clinics across the island that the Government has activated to deal with increased patient traffic during this period.

They are found in all major Housing Board estates such as Ang Mo Kio, Tampines, Woodlands and Jurong, with staff at these clinics issued with personal protective equipment and trained in the protocol for handling those with respiratory symptoms.

The network also includes the 20 polyclinics here, and was previously used to deal with the haze and the H1N1 pandemic.

NCID said an increase in the number of travellers to Singapore exhibiting respiratory symptoms could account for longer queues on Monday. They turned up on top of the higher attendance seen regularly on Mondays at the facility.

Many met the Ministry of Health's criteria for suspect cases, having travelled to affected countries recently and showed symptoms like fever or having a dry cough.

As of Tuesday night, Singapore has 266 confirmed cases of the coronavirus infection. Of these, 114 have fully recovered and been discharged, while 14 of those remaining in hospital are in critical condition.

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