Singapore to double bed spaces outside of hospitals by June
This is part of wider strategy to ensure healthcare system is not overwhelmed
The bed capacity at care facilities outside of hospitals will be doubled by June should there be an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases.
Bed spaces at other facilities, such as community recovery facilities, will also be increased, along with manpower.
This is part of a wider strategy to ensure that the healthcare system is not overwhelmed and there will be appropriate care for all patients, the authorities said yesterday at a media briefing.
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said at a press conference that they aim to double the 10,000 bed spaces at community care facilities (CCFs) to 20,000 by end June.
CCFs house Covid-19 patients with mild symptoms and lower risk factors.
Current CCFs, such as at the Changi Exhibition Centre and the Singapore Expo, are being expanded to house the new beds, but new sites will be identified to be converted into CCFs and community recovery facilities (CRFs), said Mr Gan.
The task force hopes to double bed spaces at CRFs from 2,000 spaces to more than 10,000 by end June, said Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF) director of joint operations, Brigadier-General David Neo, who was also present at the media briefing.
CRFs, mostly at SAF camps, are meant for patients who remain well after 14 days and do not require medical care.
BG Neo said more than 18,000 isolation and care beds have been created, with another 23,000 in the pipeline.
Mr Gan said the majority of Covid-19 cases here have had relatively mild symptoms or no symptoms, and do not require extensive medical intervention.
He 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.
"Given the different needs of our patients, we have set up a range of facilities to match their medical needs."
He added that studies have shown that patients who remain well at day 14 of the disease are likely to remain clinically stable and generally do not require further medical care.
These patients may be transferred to a CRF, which does not need to have medical services.
Mr Gan said that Singapore will also ramp up its manpower needs to fight Covid-19 by tapping on private sector healthcare professionals, retirees and volunteers, such as through the SG Healthcare Corps, and by leveraging on technology such as health apps.
Hospitals are now also in the process of ramping up intensive care unit capacity in line with the rising number of patients and expected number of patients in the ICU, he added.
Elaborating on this, director of medical services Kenneth Mak said hospitals have been asked to reduce the number of non-urgent clinical work to free up ICU beds.
The ministry has also been working with various hospitals to convert wards into isolation wards and ICU wards.
Additional equipment, such as ventilators, have also been procured to properly equip these beds.
But despite these measures in place, Mr Gan said Singapore should not take its healthcare capacity for granted.
He said: "I do want to preserve the buffer that we have, and we must never take healthcare capacity for granted."
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