TTSH strengthens defences in reopening after Covid-19 cluster, urges all to be vigilant

The entrance of the emergency department at Tan Tock Seng Hospital on May 18, 2021.
The entrance of the emergency department at Tan Tock Seng Hospital on May 18, 2021.ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

SINGAPORE - As Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) progressively reopens for admissions on Tuesday (May 18), it said it has strengthened defences but acknowledged it will never be able to eliminate all risks.

"The risks to our front-line healthcare workers continue to be real and present," said the hospital in a Facebook post on Tuesday morning.

"Even with aggressive testing and monitoring, we can reduce but never eliminate all risks."

Following a surge in Covid-19 community cases at TTSH, the hospital said it has worked with the Ministry of Health to contain the cluster - which has 46 cases as at Monday - to protect patients and staff in the pandemic.

The hospital added that it will ramp up support for ongoing community transmission.

On Monday, TTSH announced the move to resume admissions two weeks after it stopped admitting patients due to the Covid-19 cluster.

"The last case of exposure in our wards was more than two weeks ago," the hospital said that day.

Since then, the cases reported were already under active surveillance in isolation at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases or in quarantine.

TTSH has completed six rounds of testing for all inpatients and two rounds for all 12,000 staff on campus.

“We are not fully out of the woods just yet but we are turning the corner,” the hospital said  on Tuesday.

At TTSH on Tuesday morning, nurses were seen wearing full personal protective equipment and N95 masks.

When The Straits Times visited the accident and emergency unit, there were about five people in the waiting area outside. No queues were seen at the patient registration kiosks.

For the next two weeks, the hospital will allow one pre-registered visitor per patient, with a limit of one visit per day of up to 30 minutes. 

Visitors to critically ill patients and those seeking medical treatment in the emergency department are also allowed.

Ms Lim Hwee San, who is in her 40s, was at the hospital on Tuesday morning to accompany her mother who had broken her wrist after a fall.

When asked whether she was concerned about the TTSH cluster, Ms Lim said: “Both my mum and I are fully vaccinated and we don’t see the cluster growing a lot in recent days. I presume the hospital must have conducted adequate checks before opening.”

At noon on Tuesday, seven visitors were seen waiting at the ward registration counter where they can register to visit patients who remain hospitalised.

More visitors also started to arrive for their outpatient appointments at the hospital’s clinics. The hospital allows urgent clinic appointments and electives during this period.

A retiree who gave her name only as Mrs Toh, 70, was relieved that her husband’s appointments would not have to be rescheduled again.

He was scheduled for a CT colon scan in February, but it was cancelled twice as he had been feeling unwell.

“Every six months, he has a gastroenterology consultation so that the doctor can review his condition. We had to see the doctor urgently before his consultation on June 3,” she said.