14 newborn babies in KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital contracted conjunctivitis (red eyes) between October to Dec 2015. Professor Ng Kee Chong, Chairman of the Hospital’s Medicine Division said all babies were in the NICU for serious medical conditions. 12 NICU employees were also diagnosed with conjunctivitis and put on medical leave.
Prof Ng said the first baby probably contracted the viral infection from its mother and a few weeks later another 2 babies were found with the same eye disease. It is a common eye problem that is painful with swelling of the eyelids and may cause eye discharge.
He also added: “Isolation measures were immediately instituted for these babies upon diagnosis. Additional precautionary measures were undertaken by KKH, which included enhanced barrier protection for better efficacy against this type of virus, implementing donning of additional personal protective equipment and universal surgical masking in the neonatal unit.”
Despite the isolation precautions, another 11 babies contracted the viral infection. Since then, KKH has diverted babies needing special care to other hospitals.