No new patients at TTSH as it focuses on containing Covid-19 cluster
Hospital stops taking in new patients and defers appointments to conserve manpower
Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) stopped admitting new patients yesterday in an effort to conserve manpower and focus on containing the Covid-19 cluster that has emerged there.
It has also begun to defer medical appointments and move them online, as the cluster - Singapore's first in a hospital - now numbers 40 people, including staff, current and former patients, and visitors.
The hospital and its surrounds were uncharacteristically quiet when The Straits Times visited late yesterday morning. At least one facility - The Cardiac Centre - was shut, and many vacant seats remained at the foodcourt even during the peak lunch hour.
Another eatery, Toast Box, was closed until further notice "in the interest of our customers and staff", a notice on the outlet's shutters said.
"It's much quieter than when I last came here three months ago," said a 76-year-old seeking outpatient treatment at TTSH, who wanted to be known only as Mr Tay. "At that time, you couldn't even find a place to sit down."
The cluster was discovered after a nurse in the hospital's Ward 9D tested positive for Covid-19 last Tuesday.
On Monday, the Health Ministry said other public and private hospitals will help take on the extra load as TTSH focuses its attention on dealing with the Covid-19 cluster and caring for its current patients.
To conserve resources across the healthcare sector, all hospitals have also been asked to defer non-urgent operations and admissions, as well as non-urgent specialist outpatient clinic appointments, until further notice.
Four screening centres have been set up to offer free swab tests to people who may have been exposed to individuals in the TTSH cluster. These centres saw long waiting lines on Monday, but were relatively quiet yesterday morning.
Checks at several other hospitals found that some had put additional precautions in place, but they did not seem noticeably busier.
For instance, Singapore General Hospital put up notices reminding staff not to dine at any food and beverage outlet across the campus.
"This is to reduce cross-interaction with visitors and patients, and minimise the risk of Covid-19 transmission," the hospital said.
Visitors said waiting times were normal and hospitals appeared to be operating as usual.
"Everything's quite fast, quite normal," said insurance agent Eugene Tan, 45, who had taken his mother to National University Hospital for an appointment.
"It's about as busy as it was half a year ago, I would say.
"There are safe distancing measures to ensure people are 1m apart, and now they are asking everyone if they've been to TTSH."
ADDITIONAL REPORTING: CHERYL TAN & JOYANNE LI