From Aug. 30, 2021, the Ministry of Health (MOH) will pilot home isolation as a care model for fully vaccinated Covid-19 patients without severe symptoms, the Multi-Ministry Taskforce (MTF) announced in a press conference on Aug. 19.
Kenneth Mak, director of medical services at the Ministry of Health said on Aug. 19 these individuals will require minimal supportive care and are suitable to be cared for under this scheme.
The aim is to allow hospital resources to be redirected to those who are more frail and vulnerable as well as severe infections.
The initiative will be kick started in a risk-calibrated, phased manner, he said.
A suitable home environment is needed
The home recovery scheme is not a new concept and has been piloted by other countries such as Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom, Minister for Health Ong Ye Kung also said during the press conference.
The patients will spend the first few days in a medical facility, before moving to home isolation.
By then, the viral loads of vaccinated patients would have dropped.
However, they will need to have a suitable home setting, where they can be isolated from the rest of their household.
In addition, they and their household members must also be fully vaccinated and must not belong to any vulnerable groups, such as the elderly or immunocompromised.
This is in line with the recommendations of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the best practices of other developed countries.
What happens during home isolation?
During home isolation, the patients and their household members are required to remain in their place of residence, and this will be tracked via electronic monitoring and surveillance checks carried out through phone calls.
The patients will be closely monitored for their health and safety during this time and will be provided with access to 24/7 telemedicine services.
They will also be subjected to a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) swab on the ninth day of illness to determine if they can be discharged from isolation, provided their swab result is negative or if they carry a very low viral load.
All of the patient's household members will need to be fully vaccinated, come under home quarantine, and also be placed on a daily Antigen Rapid Test (ART) testing regiment for early detection of potential infection.
MOH will closely monitor the pilot’s outcomes and study if more patients may benefit from this mode of recovery in a safe manner.
Top image via Ong Ye Kung/Facebook.