COVID-19: Review underway as healthcare staff, volunteers test positive

Nicholas Yong
·Assistant News Editor
·2-min read
Staff at the Changi Exhibition Centre isolation facility for COVID-19 patients seen fully outfitted in personal protective equipment, during a media tour on 24 April 2020. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)
Staff at the Changi Exhibition Centre isolation facility for COVID-19 patients seen fully outfitted in personal protective equipment, during a media tour on 24 April 2020. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE – The government is “very concerned” about the number of healthcare staff and volunteers who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

As such, it is doing a review of some of the operational procedures to “see if we have gaps in our infection control measures”, said Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong at a COVID-19 multi-ministry taskforce virtual media conference on Friday (8 May).

To date, there are at least four healthcare workers linked to the Singapore EXPO community care facility who have tested positive for the virus, including a 20-year-old nurse, a 52-year-old healthcare volunteer, and a 34-year-old Health Promotion Board nurse.

Investigations are ongoing “into the various positive cases (to) better understand how the transmission could have happened”, Gan said. “Whether they were infected from the patient, or they were infected because of the staff interaction, or any other possible source of infection.”

This “will allow us to decide what additional measures we need to put in place”, Gan explained. “Concurrently, we are also doing a review of some of these operations to see whether there are still gaps in our infection control measures that we have already put in place, whether we need to tighten some of them, whether we need to close some of the gaps further.”

Kenneth Mak, the Ministry of Health’s director of medical services, added, “We want to make sure that for each of them, that they in fact were properly trained in the use of their personal protective equipment and their mask, and that they were obeying and respecting the infection control measures that they were supposed to follow.”

If needed, there may be refresher training organised as well as additional measures such as “having staff carry out inspections to watch over each other, to make sure that in fact everyone is doing the right thing”.

While staff may be very disciplined in the use of protective equipment during their work periods, “they must be equally vigilant when they are off work cycles, for example, during their breaks”, he said.

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