Stepped-up care facilities to ease pressure on hospitals

New Covid-19 community care facilities for stable patients with underlying conditions

A new category of community care facilities (CCFs) will be set up for Covid-19 patients who are generally well but have underlying health conditions that require closer monitoring.

At these stepped-up care facilities, patients will get "more comprehensive medical coverage" that will pick up early signs of deterioration, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said.

The move, which comes as Singapore reported 1,012 new Covid-19 cases last night, is aimed at augmenting hospital capacity, so that only those who need close and specialised medical attention - such as oxygen supplementation or intensive care - will get hospital beds.

Patients who will be cared for at stepped-up CCFs include elderly people who are stable and mildly symptomatic but have chronic illnesses such as cardiac, neurological or respiratory diseases.

The first stepped-up CCF will be at the NTUC Health Nursing Home in Tampines. It will have 250 beds and start operations on Thursday.

Some existing CCFs like Connect @Changi at Singapore Expo will also have several stepped-up beds.

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said yesterday that while Singapore's overall intensive care unit (ICU) capacity is holding up, accident and emergency (A&E) departments, as well as general wards, are "coming under pressure".

"Our hospitals and healthcare workers cannot be overburdened," he said in a Facebook post, adding that this is why younger, fully vaccinated people are encouraged to recover at home.

His comments come a day after MOH said some public hospitals have seen a surge in patients who rushed to A&E with mild respiratory infection symptoms.

It urged those with mild symptoms to avoid seeking treatment at hospitals and see a general practitioner (GP) at a Swab and Send Home clinic instead, so that hospital care is preserved for those in need of urgent care.

Yesterday, Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Khoo Teck Puat Hospital urged non-emergency cases to visit a GP or polyclinic, saying they had been seeing higher-than-usual Covid-19-positive and suspected cases at their A&E departments.

Mr Ong highlighted data that showed the chances of someone infected with Covid-19 coming down with severe illness depends heavily on age and vaccination status.

From May 1 to last Thursday, no one fully vaccinated and under the age of 70 had been admitted to ICU or died from Covid-19.

The data showed 0.38 per cent of fully vaccinated patients in their 70s had either been admitted to the ICU or died from the disease.

This was lower than for unvaccinated patients in their 30s, of whom 0.84 per cent had been admitted to the ICU or died from the disease.

In a separate Facebook post, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said Singapore cannot afford to be complacent, as ICU numbers can rise quickly.