Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), first documented in December 2019, was declared a public health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO) on January 30, 2020 (https://www.who.int/westernpacific/emergencies/covid-19). The disease, caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus, has affected more than 9 million people and contributed to at least 490,000 deaths globally as of June 2020, with numbers on the rise (https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/#countries).
Increased numbers of patients seeking medical attention during disease outbreaks can overwhelm healthcare facilities, hence requiring an equivalent response from healthcare services. Surge capacity is a concept that has not only been defined as the “ability to respond to a sudden increase in patient care demands” (Hick et al., Disaster Med Public Health Prep. 2008;2:S51-S57) but also to “effectively and rapidly expand capacity” (Watson et al., Milbank Q. 2013;91(1):78-122).
This narrative review discusses how Singapore’s largest tertiary hospital has encapsulated the elements of surge capability and transformed a peacetime multi-story carpark into a flu screening area in response to the COVID-19 disease outbreak.