21 April 2020
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an emerging infectious disease caused by novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), and first reported in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. Since the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003, Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) in Singapore has routinely fit-tested staff for high filtration N95 respirators, and established web-based staff surveillance systems. The routine systems were enhanced in response to Singapore’s first imported COVID-19 case on January 23,2020.
We conducted a cross-sectional study, from January 23,2020 to February 23,2020, among healthcare workers to evaluate the effectiveness of the staff protection and surveillance strategy in TTSH, a 1600-bed multidisciplinary acute-care hospital co-located with the 330-bed National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID). As of February 23,2020, TTSH/NCID has managed 76% of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Singapore. The hospital adopted a multi-pronged approach to protect and monitor staff with potential COVID-19 exposures:(1) Risk-based personal protective equipment, (2) Staff fever and sickness surveillance, and (3) Enhanced medical surveillance of unwell staff.
A total of 10,583 staff were placed on hospital-wide fever and sickness surveillance, with 1,524 frontline staff working in COVID-19 areas under close surveillance. Among frontline staff, a median of eight staff illness episodes was seen per day, and almost 10% (n=29) resulted in hospitalization. None of the staff was found to be infected with COVID-19.