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Singapore ramping up bed spaces at care facilities for COVID-19 patients

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SINGAPORE — The Singapore government is greatly expanding the number of bed spaces at care facilities for COVID-19 patients in various conditions.

“Given the different needs of our patients, we have set up a range of facilities to match their medical needs,” said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong during a multi-ministry taskforce virtual press conference on Tuesday (28 April).

“The majority who have mild or no symptoms, as well as those who have largely recovered from the illnesses, are cared for in community care facilities such as Singapore Expo under the care of a medical team supported by technology tools, such as vital signs monitoring,” he added.

As of noon on Tuesday, there are 1,451 COVID-19 patients in hospitals, of which 20 are in the intensive care unit, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) in a separate news release.

Making room for patients

At community care facilities (CCFs) for patients with mild symptoms and lower risk factors, the number of bed spaces will be ramped up to 20,000 – up from the current 10,000 – by end-June.

For community recovery facilities (CRFs) – where patients who remain well at Day 14 of their illness and do not require further medical care will be transferred – the plan is to have more than 10,000 bed spaces ready by end-June. This is up from the current 2,000 bed spaces set up at various Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) camps.

More than 3,000 additional beds are also being prepped for swab isolation facilities, which cater for patients awaiting the results of their swab tests. Currently, 4,000 bed spaces are spread out over various sites, including hotels and government chalets.

On top of all this, there are an additional 2,600 beds available at dorm isolation facilities to house patients who have tested negative for the coronavirus but may have other illnesses. These patients are currently isolated for five days in order to prevent the transmission of their conditions. The taskforce did not elaborate on what diseases these patients might be suffering from.

Elaborating on the government’s medical strategy, Gan said a “two-pronged approach” would be taken towards addressing manpower needs. This includes tapping on private sector healthcare professionals, retirees and volunteers, as well as leveraging technology.

He noted that some 3,000 healthcare professionals had signed up to be part of Singapore’s Healthcare Corps, which was launched on 7 April. Going forward, the Ministry of Health will expand its call for volunteers to include non-healthcare professionals.

“We are also redeploying manpower from industries affected by COVID-19 to enable them to take on new roles and hospitals, such as our collaboration with a Singapore Airlines. We have been able to mobilise and ramp up our medical facilities and support in a short time because of the whole of society approach,” said Gan.

Majority of patients have mild symptoms

Gan noted that the majority of Singapore’s COVID-19 cases have had “relatively mild diseases or no symptoms and they do not require extensive medical intervention”.

“About 30 per cent require closer medical observation due to the underlying health conditions or because of old age. A very small number require ventilation support and are in the intensive care units,” he said.

“Studies have shown that patients who remain well at day 14 of the illness are likely to remain well,” added Gan.

As of noon on Tuesday, Singapore has seen 14,423 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection – of which 1,095 patients have recovered and been discharged. Of the cases, 14 have died from the coronavirus.

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