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Leveraging technology to help monitor outbreak in Singapore dormitories

Singapore is one of the few countries which has managed to keep numbers largely contained, even though it was one of the first to confirm a positive COVID-19 case. One area that may have been overlooked in the effort to fight the spread of the virus was the living quarters of foreign workers.

This has now been identified and authorities are working hard to provide healthcare services and support to all those living in areas that have been identified as Covid-19 clusters.

The Inter-agency Task Force (ITF) in Singapore have announced that it will leverage technology to ensure the health and well-being of workers residing in dormitories.

The ITF have already implemented safe distancing measures in dormitories. Workers in essential services have been relocated in order to reduce the high number of workers in close living quarters and reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in the dormitories.

They have also put in place a medical support plan, with the necessary infrastructure and personnel. Public and private healthcare partners have come together to deliver a layered medical support plan, to ensure access to good and timely medical care in dormitories.

This includes the availability of: on-site mobile medical teams, mobile nursing teams supported by telemedicine doctors, teleconsultation services with doctors through tele-kiosks and mobile phones, matching of nearby Public Health Preparedness clinics to dormitories and emergency ambulances where necessary.

Leveraging the use of medical technologies

In a release by the Ministry of Manpower, it said that “We are leveraging technology as an enabler for more effective medical monitoring of our workers. This will also ensure quicker response times for medical attention. Telemedicine complements the coverage of the on-site, nearby and mobile medical teams during non-office hours and allows for prompt medical assistance for workers who are unwell.”

Teleconsultations through personal mobile devices

Doctor-led video consultation services supplements on-site/proximate and mobile medical support by providing care after hours. The service is accessible to all workers in dormitories through their personal mobile phones.

Consultations are provided by private healthcare providers listed in the Ministry of Health (MOH) Regulatory Sandbox. Medication will be delivered to the workers if necessary.

Approximately 400 video consultations between workers and doctors have been conducted to date since the service started on 25 April 2020.

Tele-kiosks

Eight tele-kiosks have been installed in dormitories, with more kiosks to be introduced progressively.

These kiosks facilitate video consultations with doctors and are connected to devices which can monitor vital signs such as blood pressure, oxygen saturation and temperature.

The kiosks provide additional quick support for workers with COVID-19 infection and ensure that they have round-the-clock access to a doctor. Medication will be delivered to the workers if necessary.

Pulse Oximeters

Pulse oximeters are used to monitor oxygen levels of individuals with COVID-19 infection and helps to detect early signs of deterioration in health.

About 8,000 pulse oximeters have been distributed to workers with COVID-19 infection who are residing in dormitories.

The provision of pulse oximeters allows workers to proactively monitor their own health status and reach out for medical assistance if needed.

The ITF has said it “is committed to providing comprehensive support to our foreign workers We will continue to ramp up strategies for a more sustainable medical support operation, to ensure their well-being.”

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