(Source: www.straitstimes.com)

SINGAPORE – The National Dental Centre (NDC) has contacted 697 out of the 714 patients who may have been treated with equipment that had not been fully sterilised.

After receiving the call, 115 turned up at the centre for further clarification.

NDC is also doing free blood tests for 92 of the affected patients, to check for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and Hepatitis B and C.

So far, the results for 88 patients have shown no HIV. But 18 had prior Hepatitis infections, with two being carriers.

On average, about one in five people here have had Hepatitis infections.

The NDC said the first blood test is to establish if the patients have any existing infections. They will be given a second blood test 3 to 6 months later to check if they may have been infected at the dental clinic.

On June 5, the NDC discovered that one batch of equipment had only gone through two of the three sterilisation steps. It recalled all the equipment, but 72 packs had been used, both on the day of discovery and the following day.

The centre issued a statement last week to say it will be contacting all the patients in the relevant clinics who might have been exposed to these equipment.

But it stresses that the risk of infection is extremely low.

The earlier two sterilisation steps would have killed off viruses and the third step is to get rid of any bacterial spores.

HIV and Hepatitis are both viral infections.

The NDC again apologised for the incident and the anxiety it has caused.

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