In the early 1900s, infectious diseases such as typhoid and cholera were rampant in Singapore. To isolate and treat patients with infectious diseases, the authorities set up a quarantine camp at Moulmein Road in 1907. Proper wards and staff quarters were later added to this site, which was named the Government Infectious Diseases Hospital in 1913. In 1920, the hospital was renamed Middleton Institution (and later Hospital) after retired Medical Officer William R C Middleton.
During the mid-1900s, Middleton Hospital played a major role in treating and controlling diseases such as typhoid, polio, diphtheria and smallpox. In 1985, it merged with Tan Tock Seng Hospital and became the Communicable Disease Centre (CDC). The CDC was instrumental in treating and controlling recent episodes of infectious diseases such as the nipah virus in 1999 and the deadly SARS outbreak in 2003.
In the past, Middleton Hospital was commonly known as Or Sai (“black lion” in Hokkien). This referred to a black lion that emblazoned the hospital’s entrance from 1913 and served as a “guardian” of the hospital compound. The black lion is still present by the CDC’s entrance today.