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Covid-19: Govt leaving ‘no stone unturned’ to protect staff, volunteers at dorms, community facilities after infections

SINGAPORE — The Government is reviewing infection control measures for staff members and volunteers at community care facilities and migrant workers’ dormitories, pledging to leave no stone unturned to protect healthcare workers and volunteers from Covid-19.

A medical worker at a community care facility in Changi Exhibition Centre. The authorities are reminding workers at such facilities about infection control and refreshing their knowledge in this area.

A medical worker at a community care facility in Changi Exhibition Centre. The authorities are reminding workers at such facilities about infection control and refreshing their knowledge in this area.

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SINGAPORE — The Government is reviewing infection control measures for staff members and volunteers at community care facilities and migrant workers’ dormitories, pledging to leave no stone unturned to protect healthcare workers and volunteers from Covid-19.

This comes after reports of healthcare workers and volunteers contracting the disease as they are deployed to these facilities.

As recently as Thursday (May 7), a fourth person working at the community care facility at the Singapore Expo Convention and Exhibition Centre — a 43-year-old Singaporean radiographer — had tested positive for Covid-19.

Community care facilities house patients who have mild symptoms of Covid-19 or those on the way to recovery.

Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, who co-chairs a multi-ministry task force overseeing Singapore’s response to the pandemic, said that the Government is reviewing operations at community care facilities and dormitories to see if there are still gaps in infection control measures and if these measures need to be tightened.

The minister said that the authorities are also reminding workers at these facilities about infection control and refreshing their knowledge in this area.

“So we are doing this on multiple fronts. The idea is to enhance the protection of our workers so that they are able to work in a safe place,” Mr Gan said.

He added that the Government is investigating the various patients who have tested positive to better understand how transmission could have happened, and the possible sources of infection, such as whether they could have been infected because of interaction among staff members.

Associate Professor Kenneth Mak, the director of medical services at the Ministry of Health (MOH), said that the authorities are taking steps to ensure that they “do not leave any stone unturned” to protect all staff members, whether they are healthcare workers or support staff members in the dormitories. The authorities will also make sure that all these workers comply with the measures.

Stressing that the Government is very concerned about the number of staff members who have contracted Covid-19, Assoc Prof Mak said it is making sure that those dispatched to the dormitories are also properly trained in the use of personal protective equipment, including masks.

He added that MOH is engaging the inter-agency task force managing the disease at the dormitories to ensure that each staff member is competent and fully understands the precautions to be taken.

“If needed, we will work with the inter-agency task force on refresher training as well as having staff carry out inspections, watch over each other to make sure that everyone is doing the right thing.” 

Of particular concern, he said, are the healthcare workers involved in supporting the migrant worker community and the medical teams dispatched to help at both the dormitories as well as community facilities.

“In these areas, we are working with the various medical teams as well as their regional health systems and hospitals where they come from to make sure that all the necessary preventive and protective measures are put in place,” Assoc Prof Mak said.

Right now, improvements in physical distancing processes are under way, such as through the use of barriers.

“We are particularly mindful that while staff may be very disciplined in the use of protective equipment during their work periods, they must be equally vigilant also during the periods when they are off work cycles, for example, during their breaks,” Assoc Prof Mak said.

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Covid-19 coronavirus Singapore EXPO MOH dormitories healthcare workers

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