Singapore Scaling Up Medical Facilities as Virus Cases Climb

(Bloomberg) --

Singapore is in the process of scaling up medical facilities by adding capacity at isolation wards and intensive care units as the confirmed number of virus cases nears 15,000, making it Asia’s most-infected nation after China and India.

More than 18,000 beds have been created for isolation and medical care needs, Singapore Armed Forces Director of Joint Operations, Brigadier-General David Neo told reporters at a briefing today. Another 23,000 are in the pipeline.

Singapore, which reported 528 new cases on Tuesday, is grappling with a rise in the number of infections among migrant workers living in often cramped dormitories after initially being lauded for its response in the early months. Of the total number of infections in the city-state an overwhelming majority are now among the community of foreign low-wage workers.

Existing hospital facilities have been re-purposed to create new capacity in isolation wards and intensive care units. Public hospitals have postponed non-urgent elective procedures to ensure that there is available hospital capacity to care for Covid-19 patients.

“It’s not necessarily our expectation we see the outbreak lasting all the way through to next year,” said Kenneth Mak, the health ministry’s director of medical services. “But we want to make sure if the numbers continue to grow we do have the capacity to look after them.”

For patients with mild symptoms and low risk factors, some 10,000 bed spaces have been set aside at the Singapore Expo halls, the Changi Exhibition Centre, and a separate resort, with a target to double that number by end-June. The military is being used to help expand contract tracing and the city now has seven dedicated centers, compared with one previously, Mak said.

With the number of new cases among Singaporeans and permanent residents dropping into single digits on Tuesday, Lawrence Wong, minister for national development who co-chairs a task force to fight the virus, said that the “trend is indeed improving, but we want to be sure that there is a decisive reduction in local community transmission before we make any moves to relax the circuit breaker measures.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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