MOH debunks Bloomberg's claim that S'pore authorities are separating children from families in 'Omicron chaos'

All cases 12 and below have been accompanied by a caregiver.

Fiona Tan | December 26, 2021, 05:16 PM

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The Ministry of Health (MOH) has refuted Bloomberg's claim that Singapore's management of Omicron has separated children from their families.

Bloomberg made the claim in a Dec. 23 opinion piece titled Singapore's Travellers Face Omicron Chaos.

What Bloomberg claimed

Bloomberg editor Rachel Rosenthal wrote that residents returning to Singapore from overseas were told to leave their children with the authorities:

"Residents who have returned this month from travel abroad are describing situations where they have been forced from their homes, ordered to share quarantine facilities with complete strangers, told to hand their unsupervised children off to authorities, and urged to abandon their pets."

Rosenthal used the account of a European male national as an example, among others.

According to Rosenthal, the man was suspected to be infected with the Omicron variant while he was self-isolating at home. His child, who was under the age of 10, had also tested positive for Covid-19.

Later on, while the man was under quarantine in a hotel, Rosenthal claimed that "the authorities have tried several times to take" the child away from his wife.

"His [referring to the European male] wife said authorities have tried several times to take their child, who is under 10 and also tested positive, to a hospital alone or to an individual hotel room. She has refused to comply, acknowledging that her decision could mean fines or imprisonment."

MOH's response

MOH has since clarified that children will not be separated from their families.

The ministry said that those aged 12 and below will stay with a caregiver, while those between the ages of 13 to 19 are isolated alone only with the written consent of their caregivers.

Checks revealed that all children aged 12 years and below who were under quarantine or isolation have been accompanied by a caregiver.

As part of MOH's precautionary measures in managing Omicron's spread within the community, the number of tests for incoming travellers have increased.

Other measures include contact tracing and placing infected or exposed individuals respectively in designated recovery or quarantine facilities.

To optimise the use of overall healthcare capacity, Covid-19 positive patients may be isolated together with other patients in these care facilities, MOH added.

These public health measures apply to everyone, be it Singapore citizens, permanent residents or foreigners.

MOH also noted that the measures are similar to those implemented when the Delta variant emerged.

These temporary measures will give Singapore time to learn more about the Omicron variant, and adapt and adjust our responses accordingly, the ministry said.

"With greater clarity, we will in time converge the public health measures between Omicron and other Covid-19 variants."

Omicron situation in Singapore

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