Home recovery scheme for COVID-19 patients to be expanded; parents can bring children home in some cases
SINGAPORE: Singapore will expand the home recovery scheme for fully vaccinated people from next Wednesday (Sep 15), the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Friday.
"This is because these individuals are generally well with no or mild symptoms and are able to self-care at home. Once notified of their COVID-19 positive results, these individuals should immediately self-isolate at home," the ministry said.
The scheme will start with fully vaccinated, young people, who will recover at home by "default". They must not have underlying illnesses or co-morbidities, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung at a COVID-19 multi-ministry task force press conference on Friday.
The scheme will be extended progressively to people up to 50 years old who have no significant co-morbidities or underlying illnesses, said Mr Ong, adding that this accounted for about 50 per cent of the infected cases now.
"We will move decisively on home recovery ... so that hospital beds are allocated to those who truly need medical attention," the Health Minister said.
Singapore has seen increasing numbers of COVID-19 community cases in recent weeks.
"Today the large majority of infected patients are in hospital more for observation and most are discharged uneventfully," he said.
CHILDREN TO RECOVER AT HOME
Singapore has been "careful" and admitting children to hospitals to provide them with dedicated medical care, said MOH.
It will now allow and encourage parents to bring their infected children home, if they are at least five years old and do not have co-morbidities or underlying illnesses.
The ministry said that there have been requests from parents to bring their infected children home as they are often well with no symptoms, and parents prefer to be able to take care of them at home.
"For these children, they will first be assessed by the hospital to be clinically fit for home recovery, before sending them back home for their recovery journey," added the ministry.
ENCOURAGING RESULTS FROM PILOT
The expansion of the home recovery scheme comes after there were "encouraging" results from a pilot - started on Aug 30 - that enrolled 21 people.
"Nine individuals have since been discharged as of Sep 9, and the rest remain clinically well," said MOH.
People on home recovery need a suitable home setting where they can be isolated from the rest of their household. Their household members must also be fully vaccinated and not belong to any vulnerable groups, such as pregnant women, elderly people above 80 years old or those who are immunocompromised.
They will be given care packs to monitor their symptoms and have access to 24/7 telemedicine support if they require any medical assistance.
MOH also announced that the length of isolation for fully vaccinated COVID-19 cases has been shortened.
"There is also evidence that vaccinated COVID-19 cases recover faster than unvaccinated cases," it added.
Full vaccinated COVID-19 cases may be discharged as early as seven days into their illness if they have undetectable or very low viral loads, showing that they are non-infectious.
Unvaccinated persons will continue to be discharged from 14 days into their illness.