Explainer: What the different types of Covid-19 isolation facilities are and how you can volunteer at them
SINGAPORE — As Singapore’s Covid-19 cases surpass the 14,000-mark, the Government is embarking on a major programme to expand the isolation facilities to accommodate these patients, both those with mild or no symptoms and the critically ill.
SINGAPORE — As Singapore’s Covid-19 cases pass the 14,000-mark, the Government is embarking on a major programme to expand the isolation facilities to accommodate these patients, including those with mild or no symptoms and the critically ill.
In total, there are now more than 18,000 bed spaces for isolation and care needs, with another 23,000 in the pipeline.
As of Tuesday, 21 Covid-19 patients are in intensive care, 1,689 patients are in hospitals and 12,120 people are isolated and cared for at community facilities.
The Government is also expanding the pool of medical workers to look after patients.
The effort on both fronts is unfolding so quickly that even citizens with no medical training are being invited to help out.
In addition, public hospitals have created more space in isolation wards and intensive care facilities by converting existing space for these purposes. They have also bought more relevant medical equipment and postponed non-urgent elective procedures.
Public hospitals and private healthcare providers are collaborating to provide extra treatment capacity and care for existing patients with chronic conditions.
Outside of the hospitals, different types of isolation facilities have been set up. Here is a closer look at these:
THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF ISOLATION FACILITIES
Community care facilities: People who have tested positive for Covid-19 and who have mild symptoms and lower risk factors are being cared for in these facilities. Brigadier-General (BG) David Neo, director of joint operations at the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), said that the goal is to double the capacity of these facilities by the end of June.
These facilities are found at:
Halls 1 to 6 of the Singapore Expo Convention and Exhibition Centre
Changi Exhibition Centre
D’Resort, an National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) chalet in Pasir Ris
Bed spaces in these facilities are expected to expand to 20,000, BG Neo said at a media briefing on Tuesday (April 28).
Packages containing items for daily use are placed on beds at the Changi Exhibition Centre, which has been repurposed into a community care facility for Covid-19 patients with mild symptoms. Photo: Raj Nadarajan/TODAY
Community recovery facilities: Patients who remain well at the end of the 14th day after being diagnosed and who do not require further medical care may be moved to these facilities. Beds are being added to go from 2,000 to 10,000 by the end of June.
These facilities are found at various SAF camps including Guillemard camp.
The patients will be isolated at these facilities before being assessed for discharge.
Swab isolation facilities: These facilities are for patients awaiting the result of a swab test, to prevent the potential spread of Covid-19 in the wider community. More than 4,000 beds are available now, with over 3,000 more in the pipeline.
More than 2,000 beds are at:
Government chalets such as the Civil Service Club Loyang
Kranji Recreation Centre
The other 2,000 beds are “in situ”, that is, where the patients are, such as facilities within foreign worker dormitories.
Dorm isolation facilities: For patients who tested negative to Covid-19, but may have other illnesses. The purpose is to stop the possible spread of other illnesses. They are isolated for five days. More than 2,600 beds are available at facilities including:
SSKBJV Workers' Dormitory in Tanah Merah
Home Team Academy in Chua Chu Kang
Hulett Dormitory in Senoko Drive near Sembawang
‘QUICK, INNOVATIVE’ WORK TO FIND SPACE
National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, co-chair of a multi-ministry task force tackling the pandemic, said that one of the differences among these facilities is that the community care facilities require medical teams to be deployed, whereas the community recovery facilities do not.
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, the other co-chair of the task force, stressed that the Government’s priority is to ensure that patients receive appropriate care, reduce medical complications they may face and ensure they survive the coronavirus.
This is being done by optimising resources which includes manpower, to prevent the public healthcare system from being overwhelmed. “So far the majority of the cases have had relatively mild diseases or no symptoms, and they do not require extensive medical intervention,” Mr Gan said.
“About 30 per cent require closer medical observation, due to underlying health conditions or because of old age. A very small number require ventilation support and care in the intensive care unit.”
Mr Wong said that in a small country such as Singapore, finding space for these patients is a big challenge.
“That's why it requires quick and innovative solutions for us to quickly put together all the space that's required to deal with this virus. We need space for quarantine, we need space for returnees coming back from overseas, we need space for isolation facilities (and) we need space for recovering patients.
“Besides the physical requirements, it's also the management that's needed to ensure that these spaces are well-run, that there are adequate infection controls, medical support (and) security arrangements (in place),” he added.
STEPPING UP MANPOWER
The authorities will also be bolstering its manpower needs by tapping more workers from the private healthcare sector as well as individuals who come from sectors that have been hard hit by the crisis.
Since the SG Healthcare Corps was launched earlier this month, the Government has recruited around 3,000 healthcare professionals, Mr Gan said.
SG Healthcare Corps was introduced to invite former nurses and other healthcare professionals in locum (who fills in for people who are away) or those in private practice to help deliver medical care at public hospitals and community care facilities.
Associate Professor Kenneth Mak, director of medical services at the Ministry of Health (MOH), said that for those who have left the healthcare profession and have chosen to return to assist with patient care, more training will be provided to ensure that they are ready to take up roles in the healthcare sector.
“We deeply appreciate the contribution and willingness to come forward. Moving forward, MOH will expand the SG Healthcare Corps to include more healthcare professionals as well as non-professionals.”
HOW DO VOLUNTEERS JOIN THE EFFORT?
The Government will be recruiting volunteers to help with pressing needs on the ground.
Assoc Prof Mak said that volunteers can come forward through the SG Healthcare Corps portal that has been created.
These volunteers need not be medically trained and MOH will deploy these volunteers based on the skills they have to offer.
For instance, some volunteers could be sent to help swab testing teams with testing patients.
Mr Gan said: “We welcome people from all walks of life. If you are interested, sign up with us and we will look for opportunities that can tap your expertise or experience.
“We welcome anyone who is keen to join us, join the ranks to volunteer to be part of the team and take care of our patients and to fight the battle with us.”
Related topicsisolation Covid-19 coronavirus healthcare workers volunteers Changi Exhibition Centre
Read more of the latest in