In what may be the biggest public health fiasco in Singapore’s recent history, the Singapore General Hospital has admitted that close to 1000 patients may have to undergo screenings as they may have been exposed to the risk of Hepatitis C when they sought treatment at the hospital between April and last month.

SGH is in the process of contacting 678 patients who were admitted to its renal wards 64A and 67 from January to June this year. It is believed that the outbreak occurred in these 2 wards.

This number is very much higher than the number announced to the public earlier this week. In that earlier announcement, chairman of the medical board at SGH Professor Fong Kok Yong said: “We will be calling back patients who passed through the ward from January to June 2015, and to date, we’ve actually looked through all those who passed through and we’ve identified 411 of them, whom we’ll be calling back just to check”.

Hepatitis C virus has an incubation period of two weeks to six months. SGH has found 22 cases of infections so far.

It is believed that lapses in the use of multi-dose medication vials may be the cause behind this shameful blot on Singapore’s public healthcare industry. Of the 8 patients who died, 4 are believed to be linked to the virus infection. One case is under review.

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