Taiwan hospitals step up efforts against coronavirus

TAIPEI (CNA)—Taiwan’s hospitals will step up infection controls for COVID-19 coronavirus by improving the division of work in health care, such as dividing small work units into even smaller units, the head of the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Sunday.

For instance, presuming that 15 medical workers are assigned to look after 15 patients, this will now be changed to assign five medical workers to provide care to five patients so as to reduce the risk of infections, because in the former case, it could allow infections to spread among 30 people, said Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC.

Chen made the remarks after Taiwan on Saturday reported four new COVID-19 cases who are believed to have been infected in a hospital.

Managing patient flow in hospitals is another focus of the precautionary measures against COVID-19, said Shih Chung-liang (石崇良), director-general of the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Department of Medical Affairs and a CECC official.

Hospitals will be designated separate entrances and exits for inpatients, outpatients and emergency room patients, to prevent hospital-acquired infections of COVID-19, Shih said.

Meanwhile, cleaning, security and maintenance staff at hospitals will be required to follow the guidelines on infection controls, he added.

Also Sunday, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said Taiwan’s hospitals have adequate negative-pressure isolation beds for use by patients who have or are suspected of having COVID-19, with 53 percent of such beds still available, while more can be added if needed.

Taiwan has a total of 943 beds in the country’s isolation negative-pressure wards, 501 of which are still available, Chuang said. If there is a shortage of negative-pressure isolation beds, more isolation facilities can be added by using isolated general wards or reconfiguring single-bed rooms to isolate patients, Chuang added.

Chuang was responding to a media question as to whether Taiwan has sufficient isolation facilities for use by patients after a woman who was evacuated from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan has been diagnosed as Taiwan’s 40th confirmed COVID-19 case.