SINGAPORE - All front-line staff and some patients of the NKF Dialysis Centre (Sakyadhita) in Boon Keng have been placed in quarantine after it was announced on Monday (Aug 9) that there was a Covid-19 cluster linked to it.
A total of 21 nursing and operational staff, as well as 33 patients who had been at the centre at the same time as the confirmed cases, have been quarantined.
The centre has 18 dialysis stations and serves a total of 105 patients. Unaffected patients will not be transferred to other NKF dialysis centres to prevent any risk of cross contamination.
But the quarantined patients will go to another dialysis centre, designated by the Health Ministry, to receive treatment during their quarantine period, said the National Kidney Foundation (NKF).
In a statement on Tuesday, NKF said three of its patients, who are above 60 years old, had tested positive for Covid-19 and are hospitalised. All are in a stable condition and are not in the intensive care unit. Two are fully vaccinated and one is not.
NKF added that deep cleaning and disinfection of the dialysis centre were done on Saturday.
It has activated and deployed its Covid-19 Emergency Response Team at the affected dialysis centre to ensure continuity of care and minimise disruption.
The team comprises 18 staff who are split into three teams that serve patients across six shifts.
NKF said it is working closely with the Health Ministry to monitor the situation and ensure that the necessary safety and precautionary measures are taken to curb further transmission.
"Dialysis patients need to continue with their dialysis treatment three times a week regardless of the circumstances," NKF said.
"NKF will continue to monitor the situation 24/7 and calibrate our measures accordingly to ensure that our patients can continue to receive safe and uninterrupted dialysis treatment, which is of topmost priority."
Before the cluster emerged, precautionary measures in place included the disinfection of all dialysis machines, chairs and the treatment area after each session of the treatment, as well as staggering the times at which patients come to the centre so that they would not mix with patients on the previous dialysis shift.
All patients, caregivers and staff are required to wear surgical masks within the treatment area at all times, said NKF.
Its nursing staff have also all been vaccinated and work in two teams, with no cross-deployment across centres.
Working hours are fixed and staff are not allowed to meet colleagues working on another shift. Patients are also not allowed to change shift or transfer to other dialysis centres, said the organisation.
Other dialysis service providers said they also have safety and hygiene measures in place such as thorough disinfection and ensuring masks are worn during dialysis.
A Fresenius Medical Care spokesman said that the organisation set up a pandemic management task force at the beginning of the pandemic to closely monitor the situation and roll out a series of infection prevention and control measures to minimise any risks to clinic staff and patients.
"Some examples of these measures include screening and restriction of entry, triaging, safe distancing, appropriate use of personal protective equipment, enhanced environment cleaning, (and) self-monitoring by staff and patients," she said.
A Kidney Dialysis Foundation (KDF) spokesman said all its dialysis centre nurses work in split teams to lower the risk of potential cross-contamination and use telecommunications for the updating of patient records and shift handovers.
She added: "With increasing clusters all over the island, knowing that one had occurred in another dialysis centre is a prompt reminder that the virus is truly unforgiving."
She said that KDF will soon be implementing surveillance testing for dialysis centre staff, patients and their caregivers at the dialysis centres as required by the Health Ministry.
All dialysis centre staff will have to undergo antigen rapid testing (ART) every fortnight. Dialysis patients undergo dialysis three times a week, hence all patients and their caregivers will be required to undergo ART self-testing every 72 hours, said the spokesman.