WP questions ministry's delay in releasing information

Professor Fong Kok Yong, chairman of Singapore General Hospital's (SGH) medical board, with Professor Ang Chong Lye, SGH’s chief executive officer, and Dr Tracy Ayre, SGH’s chief nurse, giving a media briefing on Oct 6.

The Workers' Party has asked the Ministry of Health why it took four months to release information about the spread of hepatitis C among patients at the Singapore General Hospital.

A statement yesterday by Mr Gerald Giam, the vice-chairman of the party's media team, said: "An outbreak of hepatitis C is a potential public health risk. The knowledge of such an outbreak is relevant to all citizens as they weigh their treatment options."

He asked what the ministry's protocol was in releasing information about such outbreaks.

He said he posed the questions "with a view to strengthen Singa-pore's infection control protocols in the future".

SGH called a press conference on Tuesday about the spread of hepatitis C, a serious liver infection, to at least 21 kidney patients in one of its wards.

The hospital became aware of a possible outbreak in May after seven patients were diagnosed within a four-week period.

Eight of the infected patients have died, with five deaths possibly linked to the hepatitis C infection.

Said the WP: "While the cause of the outbreak is being investigated, any potential health risks should be made known to the public and all healthcare institutions as soon as possible so that the public can make informed healthcare choices for themselves and their loved ones, and institutions can take the necessary precautions."

This article was first published on October 8, 2015. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.