SINGAPORE: Patients warded in hospitals will soon be allowed to have visitors again - but only if they are from the same or one other household, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Friday (May 22).
This is part of Singapore's gradual opening of healthcare services during the first phase of post-"circuit breaker" measures.
The Government said on Tuesday that Singapore will exit the circuit breaker as planned on Jun 1, with measures to be progressively lifted in three phases from the next day.
Each patient will be allowed one visitor at a time, although up to five visitors may pre-register with the hospitals.
This is to "protect our patients who are still vulnerable", said MOH in a media release.
"Hospitals may also introduce further measures to space out visitations and avoid crowding," it added.
From the second phase onwards, MOH said it will consider further easing visitor restrictions "to allow more family members and friends to visit loved ones admitted to hospitals".
"This will still be subject to overall visitor caps," it said.
Most patients warded in hospitals have not been allowed visitors since the circuit breaker took effect on Apr 7.
MOH said in response to queries from CNA last month that this was in line with stricter safe distancing measures and aimed at reducing "non-essential movements and contact time".
Only certain patients - such as those who were critically ill, paediatric inpatients, patients lacking mental capacity and pregnant women admitted for delivery of babies - were allowed one caregiver at a time.
DENTAL PROCEDURES CAN RESUME
Under the first phase after Singapore exits the circuit breaker, dental procedures such as scaling and polishing, fillings, crowns, dentures and orthodontic treatment will also be allowed to resume, with appropriate precautions, said MOH.
Currently, the only healthcare services classified as essential and allowed to operate are those that would otherwise result in significant or rapid deterioration of a patient's medical condition and potentially threaten their health and well-being.
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"Over the next few weeks, more healthcare services will resume in a gradual and controlled manner to minimise crowding," said MOH in its release.
"Healthcare providers will triage and prioritise the resumption of healthcare services based on medical necessity, where patients with more urgent medical needs will be attended to first. Services for patients who are well, or whose conditions are stable and whose treatment can continue to be safely deferred will resume in a later phase," it added.
VACCINATIONS, IVF, CHIROPRACTIC TREATMENTS ALLOWED
Among the healthcare services that will be allowed to resume on Jun 2 are: Preventive health services, such as vaccinations for flu, pneumococcal and other recommended adult vaccinations; and pre-enlistment screening.
Specialist outpatient services, medical procedures and allied health services for patients with higher needs will also resume.
Some examples include surgeries for visually significant or advanced cataracts, hearing implants in children, joint surgeries for patients with severe impairment, all in-vitro fertilisation services, surveillance services including scopes for high-risk groups, and diabetic foot screening.
Each patient will be assessed based on his individual circumstance, said MOH.
Traditional Chinese medicine acupuncture for all conditions will also be allowed to resume, as will ayurvedic, chiropractic, osteopathic and other forms of traditional and complementary services for management of medical conditions and relief of symptoms.
Services that alter the appearance but do not cure or help to improve an illness - such as Botox, fillers and threadlifts - will continue to be deferred.
"As there is still a need to reduce the risk of community transmissions, physical visits should be minimised whenever possible, with teleconsultation and medication delivery being the preferred mode of review," added MOH.