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Curbs on number of visitors, duration of visits at hospitals and residential care homes as COVID-19 cases rise

The Ministry of Health reminded visitors not to eat or drink in hospital wards or use toilets designated for patients.

Curbs on number of visitors, duration of visits at hospitals and residential care homes as COVID-19 cases rise

Staff members and pedestrians are seen outside Tan Tock Seng Hospital in Singapore on Apr 30, 2021. (File photo: CNA/Calvin Oh)

SINGAPORE: Visitor safe management measures at all hospital wards and residential care homes in Singapore will be tightened for four weeks as community COVID-19 cases rise, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Wednesday (Oct 12).

This is to protect healthcare capacity as well as vulnerable patients and residents, MOH said in a media release.

From Oct 14 until Nov 10, patients in hospitals will only be allowed to have two pre-designated visitors for the duration of their stays.

Only one of these visitors will be allowed at a patient's bedside at any one time.

"Critically ill patients will be allowed up to five pre-designated patients, and two visitors may be allowed at the bedside at any one point in time," MOH said.

Visits 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, MOH added.

Residents of care homes, meanwhile, will be allowed to have up to four pre-designated visitors, and only one visitor may visit at any one time with the visit duration limited to 30 minutes, MOH said.

"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," the ministry added.

Rules on hospital and residential care home visits were last eased on Sep 1. Since then, hospitals have allowed up to two bedside visitors at any one time during visiting hours, while residential care homes allowed residents to have two visitors per visit with a one-hour cap on each visit.

MOH reminded visitors not to eat or drink in hospital wards or use toilets designated for patients in the wards. Visitors should also avoid sitting on patients' beds.

"In addition, as our hospitals’ emergency departments (ED) are seeing a high number of patients daily, we encourage members of public to only go to the ED for emergency conditions," MOH said.

To prioritise emergency department resources for patients who need emergency medical care, the Health Ministry said emergency department patients with non-emergency conditions, including children, may be diverted to other urgent care clinics or primary care clinics for further assessment.

MOH added that residential care home visitors should continue to schedule their visits with the home ahead of time, while ensuring that they adhere strictly to prevailing safe management measures within the homes. This includes remaining within designated visitor areas outside wards.

"Visitors to hospitals and homes are to ensure that they are well and are strongly encouraged to test themselves with an antigen rapid test (ART) kit on the day of the visit to their loved ones.

"They must don face masks with good filtration capability at all times. These include surgical masks and reusable masks that are made of two layers of fabric," said MOH. 

Hospitals and homes have the discretion to impose stricter visitor limits or testing requirements for visitors of vulnerable or unvaccinated patients, the ministry said.

MOH said that it will review and calibrate these measures regularly in line with the evolving COVID-19 situation in Singapore.

"We seek the understanding and cooperation of patients, residents, and their family members and loved ones as we work to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in our healthcare institutions."

Singapore reported 11,732 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday amid an increase in infections brought about by the XBB strain.

The number of severe cases has remained relatively low, however, MOH said on Tuesday.

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Source: CNA/kg(gr)


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