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     FrontPage Edition: Fri 2 April 2004

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SARS control measures in hospitals & clinics stepped down

Since the end of the SARS outbreak in July 2003, there have only been two cases of SARS arising from laboratory-related exposure (in Singapore in Sep 2003 and in Taiwan in Dec 2003) and four sporadic cases in Guangdong from Dec 2003 to Jan 2004.

All six cases recovered and did not result in secondary transmission of the disease. The last case was discharged from hospital in Guangdong on 30 Jan 2004.

The risk of SARS being imported into Singapore is currently extremely low in view of the few sporadic cases that have occurred without any local transmission.

Correspondingly, several SARS-related measures currently in place at hospitals and medical clinics will be stepped down with effect from 1 April 2004.

Measures to be lifted

The following measures will be lifted wef 1 April:

Restricting the number of visitors for hospital inpatients to 4 registered visitors per patient currently. Although the Ministry has lifted the restriction on visitors to hospital inpatients, the Ministry seeks the cooperation of the public to observe visiting hours and to restrict visitors to not more than two visitors per patient at any one time.

This is especially so when visiting patients who share the room/ward with other patients. In this way, the public will be playing their part in maintaining hygiene in hospitals and at the same time allowing patients to have sufficient rest.

Maintaining the contact details of visitors to hospitals, healthcare institutions and outpatient clinics.

Triaging of patients for fever at Specialist Outpatient Clinics in hospitals, polyclinics, private GP, specialist clinics and other healthcare institutions. However, clinics may continue to triage and separate patients with fever if this has now been efficiently incorporated into their normal workflow.

Monitoring of staff temperature in healthcare institutions. However, a system to track staff who are on medical leave or who are hospitalised will still be maintained to recognise three or more staff on the same area who are unwell.

Measures in hospitals that will continue

Even as we step down our control measures, we will still maintain the following surveillance measures:

Triaging of patients for fever at Emergency Departments in hospitals to separate febrile patients. Febrile patients are to be managed separately.

Isolating potentially infectious inpatients.

Requiring hospital staff in high-risk areas (e.g. emergency departments, intensive care units, isolation rooms) to wear PPE.

Source: Ministry of Health 1 April 2004

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Public Holidays GOOD FRIDAY is the next public holiday. It falls on 9 April 2004.