The Ministry of Health (MOH) has extended the suspension in-person visits at all hospital wards and residential care homes until Nov. 21, inclusive of the day itself.
This includes public acute hospitals, community hospitals and private hospitals.
Previously, it was announced that in-person visits to hospitals as well as to residential care homes, will be suspended until until Oct. 23 and 24 respectively, both dates included.
Why the extension?
The suspension in-person visits is to "protect healthcare capacity and vulnerable seniors during this period", when Covid-19 cases in the community are rising.
In the past two weeks, the rise in Covid-19 cases in the community has increased Covid-19 admissions to the hospitals.
Several new Covid-19 clusters have also been detected amongst patients and residents in the hospitals and residential care homes.
MOH has ramped up booster vaccination for healthcare workers and seniors, including those residing in residential care homes, to mitigate the risk of large outbreaks in the hospitals and residential care homes.
Some hospital visitors allowed on case-by-case basis
During the suspension, some patient groups will continue to be allowed visitors on a case-by-case basis, as assessed by the hospitals.
The following patient groups would be allowed only one pre-designated visitor, with one visit per day:
- Patients who are in critical condition
- Paediatric patients
- Birthing or post-partum mothers
- Patients requiring additional care support from caregivers. Examples of caregivers include those providing assistance to inpatients who have mental incapacities or family members who are undergoing caregiver training to better care for their loved ones after hospital discharge.
Patients who are in critical condition may be allowed up to five pre-designated visitors, with a maximum of two visitors at the patient’s bedside at any one time.
Requirement for visitors
All visitors to hospital wards during this period will need to produce a valid negative antigen rapid test (ART) result obtained within the last 24 hours of each visit.
This must be administered or supervised by MOH-approved Covid-19 test providers, which includes tests performed at Quick Test Centres.
This is a mandatory requirement for all visitors regardless of vaccination status, except for persons who have recovered from Covid-19 and are able to present a valid Pre-Event Test (PET) exemption notice, said MOH.
All visitors approved to enter hospital wards must don face masks with good filtration capability at all times, which includes surgical masks and reusable masks that are made of two layers of fabrics.
Visitors are reminded not to eat or drink in the hospital wards, or use the patients’ toilets in the wards, and they should also avoid sitting on patients’ beds, said MOH.
In-person visits at residential care homes
Residential care homes will also have the discretion to allow visits for exceptional cases, for example if the resident is critically ill.
These visitors would be subject to visitor management measures as advised by the residential care homes.
MOH said that residential care homes would also be focusing on rolling out booster vaccinations for their residents during this period.
As residents of care homes tend to be more susceptible to severe illness if infected, MOH strongly encourages all next-of-kin of residents to support their loved ones in getting vaccinated and receiving their booster dose once eligible.
This would ensure that they have a high level of immunity and are protected from severe disease, stated MOH in the press release.
Measures will be reviewed
MOH shared that hospitals and residential care homes will continue to support alternative methods of communication such as through telephone or video calls, to ensure that patients and residents remain connected with their loved ones.
The ministry will also review and calibrate these measures regularly in line with the evolving situation.
On Oct. 20, Multi-Ministry Taskforce (MTF) announced that the phase will be extended by another four weeks, and measures will be reviewed at the two-week mark.
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Top images by MOH/FB.