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Hospitals still ‘very busy and under stress’ due to non-Covid-related emergency admissions: Ong Ye Kung

SINGAPORE — Hospitals are “still very busy and under stress” even though the Omicron wave is subsiding, and this is due to a large number of non-Covid-related emergency department admissions, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said in a Facebook post on Friday (March 18) on the Covid-19 situation.

Out of every 100 emergency department patients admitted into hospital, between 90 and 95 per cent were for acute medical emergencies, or a worsening of chronic medical conditions.
Out of every 100 emergency department patients admitted into hospital, between 90 and 95 per cent were for acute medical emergencies, or a worsening of chronic medical conditions.

SINGAPORE — Hospitals are “still very busy and under stress” even though the Omicron wave is subsiding, and this is due to a large number of non-Covid-related emergency department admissions, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said in a Facebook post on Friday (March 18) on the Covid-19 situation.

These were mostly patients with chronic diseases that have worsened over the last two years as the healthcare system was “so pre-occupied with fighting Covid-19”, he said.

Many of these patients were admitted to hospitals with Covid-19, and not because of it, he added.

To illustrate, Mr Ong said that out of every 100 emergency department patients admitted into hospital, between 90 and 95 per cent were for acute medical emergencies, or a worsening of chronic medical conditions.

Of these, around 20 per cent had an incidental Covid-19 diagnosis.

The remaining 5 per cent were admitted for Covid-specific treatments.

“We call this the business-as-usual debt, which has to be repaid. And the debt repayment is coming at us ferociously. We hope this situation will ease in the coming couple of weeks,” he added.

Separately, Mr Ong said that the number of individuals hospitalised due to Covid-19 was “falling gradually”, though it still lagged behind the decline in daily cases.

On the daily case counts, he said that the Omicron wave "has clearly peaked, is subsiding and picking up pace". The week-on-week case ratio is now almost 0.7, compared to over 0.9 just a few days ago. 

“Week-on-week changes in daily cases, and emergency department hospital admissions, are two numbers that we are watching closely, as we plan our next set of easing measure.”

SUSPENSION OF VISITS TO HOSPITALS, HOMES EXTENDED

In an announcement on Friday, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a statement that it will continue to suspend in-person visits to all hospital wards and residential care homes until April 3. This includes public acute hospitals, community hospitals and private hospitals.

The suspension was meant to last until March 20, but the ministry reiterated Mr Ong's point that hospitals continue to face a high volume of patients despite the drop in Covid-19 cases over the past week.

Moreover, healthcare workers are "still under significant stress", MOH said.

"As such, to relieve pressure on our hospital staff, and our nursing home staff who are caring for Covid-positive residents on-site, in-person visits to hospital wards and homes will continue to be suspended until April 3 (inclusive)," it added.

However, hospitals and homes have the discretion to allow visits for exceptional cases, such as when a patient or resident is critically ill, and such visitors will continue to be subject to prevailing visitor management measures.

To help patients and residents remain connected with their loved ones with the extended suspension, MOH said that hospitals and homes will continue to support alternative methods of communication such as through telephone or video calls.

Related topics

Covid-19 coronavirus Ong Ye Kung Hospital healthcare workers eldercare MOH

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