The Singapore General Hospital (SGH) has created portable systems that can convert wards, intensive care units (ICU) and operating theatres into negative pressure isolation rooms within hours to house patients with infectious diseases.

One of the two transparent chamber-like systems at SGH, called the System of Portable AnteRoom for Containment (SG-Sparc), can be fitted behind the entrance of a ward or ICU. It measures 1.2m by 1.6m, and is 2.4m high.

After any gaps between the entrance and the system are sealed, a Hepa filter unit at the top of the system is powered up to create a negative pressure environment within the patient's room, so that contaminated air from the room will not escape.

The chamber has two doors, one at the entrance of the ward and one inside the ward.

When the inside door opens, contaminated air flows into the chamber and through the Hepa filter, and clean air re-enters the room.

The 70kg system takes an hour to set up and was installed at SGH's Medical ICU in July.

The collapsible SG-Sparc can also be fixed to single-and multiple-bed wards.

The other SG-Sparc system, used in operating theatres, is larger to allow an ICU bed, ventilator and medical staff to pass through. Measuring 3.8m by 1.6m and with a height of 2m, the system prevents droplets from escaping the room while surgical operations, including aerosol-generating procedures, are performed on infectious patients.

The 150kg chamber takes two hours to set up. One system has been installed in an operating theatre in SGH.

Singapore General Hospital creates portable chambers that can convert wards into isolation rooms

The two systems were developed by anaesthesiologists from SGH, in collaboration with local biomedical incubator The Biofactory. The project was funded by SingHealth Duke-NUS' Urgent Covid-19 Research Fund, with contribution from The Biofactory.

Compared with existing systems, SG-Sparc has a combination of advanced features such as contactless sensors and a higher rate of air filtration, which makes it the first of its kind, said Dr Mavis Teo, a consultant at SGH's department of anaesthesiology.


In a room fitted with the system, the air can be filtered up to 300 times an hour, compared with an operating theatre where the air is filtered 12 times an hour.

The inventions come at a time when existing numbers of isolation rooms abroad are insufficient to support the Covid-19 surge. It is also costly and time-consuming to build isolation rooms.