SINGAPORE: One of the largest multi-disciplinary hospitals in Singapore on Friday locked down four wards and sent 76 staffers on leave following the detection of a cluster of COVID-19 cases there.
Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) Chief Executive Officer Dr Eugene Soh said the growing cluster is of particular concern and the hospital is "acting fast with a three-pronged approach" to contain and control the infections, while securing the safety of patients and staff members.
The first step includes immediate containment measures to treat and isolate staff members or patients, he said.
"We have also identified patients and staff who are close contacts of the positive cases. Today, we have transferred 61 patients, including the confirmed patients to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID).
"We have since also placed 76 of our staff who have been in close contact on leave of absence (LOA), awaiting their quarantine orders based on further contact tracing," Dr Soh was quoted as saying by the Channel News Asia.
He also anticipates that possibly "a couple of hundred" staff members could be placed on LOA as contact tracing continues.
To deal with the manpower situation, the hospital has reduced non-urgent electives, and re-directed non life-threatening accident and emergency cases to other hospitals.
In total, four hospital wards have now been locked down, Dr Soh said.
This comes after two of the wards were first locked down on Thursday.
Locking down the wards means that there is no movement in and out of the ward, he explained, adding that there is a dedicated team of staff members caring for patients in these wards.
Soh said the hospital has stepped up clinical surveillance of all inpatients who develop fever or related symptoms.
"However, patients with COVID 19 may be asymptomatic. And hence, this underlies the challenges with the diagnosis and surveillance of these patients," he added.
Soh said there are currently 1,100 inpatients and 4,500 staff members at the hospital all of whom will be swabbed.