Nearly 1,000 to be screened for Hepatitis C after outbreak in SGH

SINGAPORE - A hepatitis C scare linked to four deaths so far in Singapore widened Friday after its largest hospital said nearly 1,000 patients and health staff need to be screened for the virus.

The Singapore General Hospital said 678 patients as well as 273 medical workers were being contacted to be screened for the virus, double the number initially estimated to be affected.

The hospital earlier said 22 kidney patients had been infected with hepatitis C between April and June.

Eight died with four of the deaths linked to the viral infection and another still under investigation.

The cause of the outbreak has left the medical community stumped.

Hepatitis C is usually spread through unsafe injection practices, poor sterilisation of medical equipment and unscreened blood transfusions, according to the WHO.

The use of multi-dose vials of medicine has been cited as a possible cause of the outbreak in Singapore, expect that new needles and syringes are used for each dosage.

The apparent delay in alerting the public has also caused indignation in Singapore, which prides itself on a modern healthcare system that attracts patients from around the world.