COVID-19: Patients in hospitals to be allowed 5 visitors from different households a day under Phase 2

COVID-19: Patients in hospitals to be allowed 5 visitors from different households a day under Phase 2

Singapore hospital ward
File photo of a hospital ward in Singapore. (TODAY file photo)

SINGAPORE: Patients warded in acute and community hospitals will now be allowed to receive up to five visitors from different households each day, said the Ministry of Health (MOH), as Singapore enters the second phase of its post-"circuit breaker" reopening.

During Phase 1 of the reopening, patients were allowed to have up to five pre-registered visitors, but they had to be from the same or one other household. Additionally, only one visitor could visit at a time.

With Singapore entering Phase 2 of its reopening on Friday (Jun 19), patients will now also be allowed two visitors at a time, said MOH in response to queries from CNA.

READ: COVID-19: Patients in hospitals to be allowed visitors from same or one other household from Jun 2

“Visitors should pre-register with the hospital before visiting to reduce unnecessary movements," said MOH, adding that there will be strict social distancing and infection prevention and control measures for all visitors.

Hospitals may also introduce further measures to space out visitations and avoid crowding, it added.

MOH also said that services that were previously suspended will resume in a “phased manner”, with the services prioritised based on medical urgency.

“Services that can be provided using teleconsultation should continue doing so, to minimise the need for face-to-face consultation,” said MOH.

The resumption of services is subject to the need to strictly observe safe distancing and appropriate infection control measures, a spokesperson said.

Hospitals have to continue to minimise cross-institutional movement of healthcare staff, as part of implementing safe management measures for their staff, MOH said. They must also continue split team arrangements.

READ: No visitors for patients in hospitals except in certain cases, MOH says

Several hospitals have updated their visitation policies on their Facebook pages to align with MOH’s directives.

Mount Alvernia said that visitors will be allowed between 8.30am and 8.30pm, with the exception of children aged 12 years old and below.

At Changi General Hospital, visitors will not be allowed to bring patients out of wards, to minimise their contact with unregistered visitors and risk of infection, it said on Facebook.

Visitors with loved ones warded at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital may visit between 12pm and 2pm as well as 6pm and 8pm, with the exception of restricted wards, it said. 

At KK Women's and Children's Hospital, the five visitors will have to be pre-designated with no changes allowed during the patient's stay. Two of those visitors will be allowed at a time between 10am and 8pm at the paediatric, obstetric and gynaecology wards, and one visitor for the restricted wards. Children under 12 are not allowed to visit the wards.

Parkway Pantai, which manages Gleneagles, Mount Elizabeth, Mount Elizabeth Novena and Parkway East Hospitals, said that its visitation policy will be in line with MOH's guidelines. 

Chief executive of Parkway Pantai's Singapore Operations Division Dr Prem Kumar Nair said that while inpatients and their loved ones welcome a more relaxed visitor policy,"our hospitals remain vigilant and continue to ensure that all safe measures and infection control protocols remain in place for everyone's safety".

At Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH), visitors will be allowed between 12pm and 8pm, it said on its Facebook page. Safe distancing of 2m must be observed, it added.

In response to queries from CNA, TTSH said that patients with more urgent medical needs will continue to be attended to first in both the outpatient and elective surgery settings. 

For example, the hospital will be seeing more patients with chronic diseases or acute conditions that will require active intervention in its outpatient clinics, a spokesperson said.

"For some patients assessed to be stable but requiring specialist care, we will monitor and care for them through ways such as tele-consultation, home care through our Community Health Teams and replenishment of medications through free-of-charge home delivery," he added. 

He noted that TTSH has been at the epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak, augmenting and ramping up efforts at the National Centre of Infectious Diseases (NCID) with manpower and resources for screening, testing and patient care. 

"We see the bulk of Singapore’s COVID cases both suspect and confirmed. We did this while still maintaining our BAU (business as usual) patient services for emergency, urgent and critical care," he said.

TTSH is progressively resuming all such BAU services, he said, adding that the resumption of hospital services will be prioritised in a controlled manner while still maintaining and managing the outbreak support at NCID and in the community. 

"This approach will allow us the balance to care for our returning patients while ensuring our manpower and resources are ready to move back into outbreak mode in the event of a resurgence," he said.

Dining-in will resume at TTSH with safety measures in place.

Mr Geoffrey Gui, director, division of operations (patient support), Singapore General Hospital, said that visitors may come between 12pm and 2pm and 5pm to 8.30pm.

“This allows our patients to see more loved ones, while minimising crowding and facilitating safe distancing in the wards. Visitors are encouraged to plan their visits appropriately to avoid overcrowding the waiting areas and lobbies,” he said.

Outpatients will continue to be allowed to have one accompanying visitor for medical appointments or for visits to the Emergency Department, he said.

Visitors will be screened with thermal scanners at the main entrance of each SGH block, complete a declaration form and check-in with the SafeEntry system.

Those who have symptoms will be denied entry.

Meanwhile, food and beverage outlets within SGH will resume dining-in, with safe management measures in place. 

"As seats at the F&B outlets will be limited, staff are encouraged to continue with takeaways and enjoy their meals at dedicated staff dining spaces, giving priority to patients and visitors,” said Mr Gui.

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Source: CNA/ja(aj)