Health Minister Gan Kim Yong paid tribute to the staff of Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) for their tireless efforts in containing the Covid-19 pandemic in Singapore.
He said in his Ministerial Statement on May 11 in Parliament, to applause from the other Members of Parliament:
"We know you have been working tirelessly in difficult and uncertain conditions. Despite the stressful situation caused by the outbreak, you continue to do your best for the patients. I believe I speak for the great majority of Singaporeans, all of us in Ministry of Health, and everyone in this Chamber, that we are all solidly behind you."
Gan noted that there have been reports of TTSH staff being shunned by the public or refused service.
However, he said that this is only a small minority and the vast majority of Singaporeans are thankful for the contributions and sacrifices of all our healthcare workers, including the ones from TTSH.
Update on Tan Tock Seng Hospital cluster
This was discovered after a staff nurse reported her symptoms and was confirmed to be positive for Covid-19 on April 28.
Gan highlighted, "I should point out that this does not mean she had been the first infected case, and had brought COVID-19 into the wards. But her responsible act enabled us to pick up the cluster at TTSH."
The authorities threw up "containment rings" around the infected cases and their contacts, which eventually resulted in 12,500 people being tested and 2,500 people quarantined. This is in addition to the 12,000 staff and 1,000 patients of TTSH.
The cluster has 43 cases as of May 10, comprising 10 staff, 26 patients and seven visitors or household members.
Of these cases, nine had received full doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. Of these nine, all were either asymptomatic or displayed mild symptoms, and none required oxygen support. In contrast, those who did not receive the full vaccine dose required oxygen, intensive care, and one passed away.
"While the numbers are too small to draw firm conclusions, the findings do indicate that vaccination provides critical protection even against COVID-19 variants. We know that while vaccination does not eliminate the risks of infection totally, it does provide significant protection against infections and help to reduce the severity of the disease. It is also likely to reduce onward transmission."
Working to provide help
Gan later responded to a follow-up question from MP Tan Wu Meng that staff from TTSH were facing discrimination, particularly in housing, and when trying to book transport to go to work.
Gan said this is a "worrisome trend" and cannot be condoned.
The Ministry of Health and the Multi-Ministry Task Force are helping the workers by negotiating with hotels to provide accommodation for those affected. However, this should not be seen as carte blanche for landlords to kick out tenants who are healthcare workers.
Top image from TTSH Facebook page.