SINGAPORE: Hospitals and residential care homes will impose limits on the number of visitors for four weeks from Thursday (Jul 7) amid a rise in the number of COVID-19 community cases in Singapore.
There will also be a cap on the duration of visits to these facilities, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Tuesday.
The measures - which will be in effect from Jul 7 to Aug 3 – are to protect healthcare capacity as well as vulnerable patients and residents during this period, said MOH.
All patients warded in hospitals will be allowed two pre-designated visitors for the duration of their admission, and only one visitor may be allowed at the bedside at any one time.
Critically ill patients will be allowed up to five pre-designated visitors. Two of them may be allowed at the bedside at any one point in time.
The duration of a visit will be limited to 30 minutes.
“In exceptional situations, such as for critically ill patients, paediatric patients, birthing or post-partum mothers, and for patients requiring additional care support, visitors may be allowed to stay beyond 30 minutes on a case-by-case basis at the hospitals’ discretion,” said the Health Ministry.
All visitors should ensure that they are well, said the ministry, adding that they are "strongly encouraged" to test themselves with an antigen rapid test (ART) on the day of the visit.
MOH said hospitals have the discretion to impose stricter visitor limits or testing requirements for visitors of vulnerable or unvaccinated patients.
“Visitors are reminded not to eat or drink in the hospital wards, or use the toilets designated for patients in the wards. They should also avoid sitting on patients’ beds," it added.
RESIDENTIAL CARE HOMES
At care homes, all residents will be allowed up to four pre-designated visitors, and only one of them may visit at any one time. The duration of a visit will be limited to 30 minutes.
MOH said visitors should continue to schedule the visits with the home ahead of time. These visitors should similarly ensure that they are well, and are strongly encouraged to perform a COVID-19 self-test on the day of the visit.
“Visitors should strictly adhere to prevailing safe management measures within the homes. This includes remaining within the designated visitor areas, outside of the wards.
“We also seek the understanding of visitors that visits may have to be suspended if a home is managing active COVID-19 cases. Next-of-kin of residents may approach the home for further details,” added MOH.
All visitors must wear face masks with good filtration capability at all times while visiting hospitals or residential care homes, said the ministry. These include surgical masks and reusable masks that are made of two layers of fabric.
MOH said it will review and calibrate these measures regularly in line with the evolving COVID-19 situation.
“We seek the understanding and cooperation of patients, residents, their family members and loved ones as we work to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in our healthcare institutions and residential care homes,” it added.
Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said earlier on Tuesday that the number of COVID-19 cases that require hospitalisation has “increased quite significantly” to nearly 700, and hospitals have started to cut back on non-COVID-19 and elective procedures.
“The number of hospitalisation cases has reached almost 700 now, so it has increased quite significantly. This is as compared to the height of the Omicron wave earlier this year, where we had about 1,700 hospitalisation cases,” Mr Ong said in Parliament.
The current COVID-19 wave will not be as severe as the Omicron wave earlier this year, the minister said, adding that there are indications that Singapore is near the peak, if not at the peak, of the current infection wave.
Singapore reported 12,784 COVID-19 cases on Tuesday. That's about 10 per cent more than last Tuesday, said Mr Ong, noting that Tuesday is "always the day where cases spike up".
At the peak of the earlier Omicron wave, Singapore saw about 18,000 new COVID-19 cases daily.