Doctors in S'pore can decide on number of days of Covid-19 medical leave in endemic phase

A more enlightened response as we adjust to the new norm.

Ruth Chai | February 11, 2023, 12:50 PM

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Responding to a query about the updated protocol for Covid-19 related medical leave, Director of Medical Services at the Ministry of Health (MOH) Kenneth Mak clarified that there is no specific mandated duration of leave in place if someone were to be infected with the virus.

He was speaking at the multi-ministry taskforce's press conference on Feb. 9.

Previously, a Ministry of Manpower advisory updated on May 16, 2022 stated that if one is mildly symptomatic but tests positive for Covid-19, they should self-isolate for 72 hours and do an Antigen Rapid Test (ART) on the third day.

One should return to work only after testing negative.

The advisory stated that there was no need to visit a doctor to obtain a medical certificate, but that an infected individual should consult a doctor for medical advice if they feel the need to do so.

A more enlightened approach

Mak said "a more enlightened approach" would be moving away from mandating specific durations of medical leave.

Instead, doctors will conduct individual assessments on patients before deciding the appropriate number of days of medical leave that the patient should take.

This protocol applies not only to Covid-19, but other types of infections as well, Mak explained.

This ensures a more "sustainable response" to the new norm post-endemic, said Mak.

He added: "Companies should still be encouraged to respect medical leave given by doctors and provide ample opportunities for employees to recover from the infection."

However, Mak acknowledged that this arrangement might vary between different companies and individuals.

Use an ART if experiencing mild symptoms

Responding to Mothership's queries, a 51-year-old doctor from Dover Clinic and Surgery advised that if anyone experiences mild Covid-19 symptoms, one should still conduct an ART test before going out.

He explained that there have been several patients that suffer from symptoms unrelated to Covid-19, but still end up testing positive for the infection.

"Patients should wear a mask and consult a doctor who will then usually give them three days MC if he or she thinks the symptoms are due to an infection."

He also stated that the MOH has yet to release a statement to doctors about any sort of updated professional protocol.

Doctors might still decide to give patients up to seven days of medical leave, or until the ART test turns negative, he said.

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Top photo from Mothership