SINGAPORE: More than 3,900 COVID-19 patients were discharged from hospitals and community facilities between May 29 and Jun 2, after the Ministry of Health (MOH) revised its discharge criteria.
These are patients who are assessed to be clinically well by day 21 of illness. They will not need to undergo further COVID-19 tests.
It was announced on May 28 that the discharge criteria will be changed to a time-based one, as more scientific evidence shows that these patients are no longer infectious by day 21.
Of the more than 3,900 patients discharged based on the new criteria, the vast majority are work pass holders, said MOH on Friday (Jun 5) in response to queries from CNA.
“All COVID-19 patients who are assessed to be clinically well by day 21 of illness can be discharged from the hospitals or community facilities without the need for further tests,” it added.
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According to MOH, local and international studies show that patients are generally non-infectious after day 14 of illness.
"After day 14, while PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests may pick up minute fragments of the COVID-19 virus RNA (ribonucleic acid), these RNA fragments are no longer transmissible and infective to others and the virus is no longer viable," the ministry said on May 28.
"This means the patient is no longer infectious beyond this period."
It noted that countries that adopt or recommend a time-based discharge policy include South Korea, United Kingdom, the United States, Estonia and Ireland, adding that these countries typically discharge patients after seven to 14 days after the onset of symptoms.
In Singapore, authorities will continue to isolate all patients until day 21 of the onset of illness as an extra precaution.
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Previously, patients needed to test negative twice consecutively, 24 hours apart, in order to be discharged.
MOH said patients who are discharged under the new criteria will have to remain at home or at dormitories for another seven days before they can return to work after day 28 of their illness.