MOH Director Kenneth Mak (left), Minister Gan Kim Yong, Minister Lawrence Wong, Minister Josephine Teo; Ministry of Health press conference

In the coronavirus update yesterday, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong admitted that Singapore is running out of hospital beds and medical staffs due to the relentless increase in coronavirus infection. The desperate Ministry of Health is only now scrambling for more resources and increasing capacity, despite the outbreak having started in January.

Singapore reported another 528 new cases yesterday, bringing the total to 14,951, the highest in Asia outside China.

Hospital beds, intensive care units (ICU) and medical staffs are now in severe crunch as the government failed to stop the increase. Health Minister said he is adding more resources in expectation of a higher infection in Singapore:

“Hospitals are ramping up intensive care unit capacity in line with the rising number of Covid-19 patients and the expected number who will need such facilities.”

Ministry of Health’s director Kenneth Mak said he is putting patients on longer queues to free up the beds for coronavirus cases:

“All hospitals have been asked to reduce non-urgent clinical work and to allow ICU beds to be reserved for those who truly need them, especially those with Covid-19. Hospitals have also started converting other wards into ICUs and negative pressure isolation wards over the last few weeks. They have expanded their capacities already, at least twice now, and we continue to complete conversion works in the rest of the hospitals to increase our capacity. At the back end, additional equipment has also been procured, including ventilators and equipment used for monitoring patients. Additional procurement efforts continue.”

In terms of medical staffs shortage, the government is calling for ex-nurses and former doctors to return to the practice:

“We have invited those who have left nursing and gone into other careers to consider coming back into the nursing workforce and we will be providing additional training to make sure that they are ready to take on these added roles if we need to fill up these additional ICU beds.”