No new hepatitis C cases as 441 patients test negative

Patients in a ward at the dialysis centre in SGH. The hospital said 284 of 319 SGH staff have also been screened. The results of 279 of them are out and they have all tested negative.

Ten days after Singapore General Hospital (SGH) started contacting patients who may have been exposed to hepatitis C for screening, it has not uncovered any new cases of the blood-borne virus.

In a statement by the hospital yesterday, it said that 485 out of 678 patients have been screened. These patients were admitted to wards 64A and 67 at SGH from January to June.

Of those screened, 441 have tested negative. The results of the remaining 44 patients are pending.

An additional 144 patients have made appointments for screening. Eight patients have so far been uncontactable while 11 other patients have declined screening due to their frail health.

The hospital has learnt that 30 of the patients have died since their discharge. Most of these patients were terminally ill and discharged to spend their last days at home or in a palliative-care setting.

In the statement, Professor Fong Kok Yong, chairman of SGH's medical board, said: "The causes of death of these 30 patients were end-stage renal disease, cancer, ischaemic heart disease or pneumonia. Based on our review of their medical histories, we have ruled out hepatitis C as a contributing cause."

Also, 284 of 319 SGH staff have been screened, the hospital said in its statement. The results of 279 of them are ready and they have all tested negative.

Last week, SGH revealed that 22 kidney patients had contracted hepatitis C infections while receiving treatment in the hospital.

Eight of the patients have died and five of the deaths could be linked to the infection.

The Ministry of Health has since launched a separate investigation of the matter.

The Independent Review Committee will be investigating how the hepatitis C infections occurred.

This article was first published on Oct 17, 2015.
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