More than 300 clinics issued notices for performing non-essential treatments like Botox and tooth implants
SINGAPORE: Authorities have issued 340 control orders to medical and dental clinics here for performing non-essential treatment ranging from Botox to tooth implants during the COVID-19 "circuit breaker" period.
In addition, one private specialist clinic has been issued a fine of S$1,000 for failing to put in place safe distancing measures despite a reminder, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Saturday (May 16).
Some of the non-essential services provided by the healthcare providers included health screenings for insurance policies, consultation for skin and hair conditions which were stable, as well as beauty treatments like Botox injections, fillers and chemical peels, according to an MOH circular dated Apr 30 seen by CNA.
Hospitals were also issued control orders for operating on stable cataracts, which is an elective procedure, the circular said. Other non-essential services conducted include endoscopy on asymptomatic patients, as well as ear, nose and throat procedures for patients in stable condition.
Some dental clinics were found to have given elective procedures such as scaling and polishing, or started on crowns and tooth implants which were considered not urgent.
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During Singapore's circuit breaker period, which is in place until Jun 1, all non-essential activities are to cease, to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading. MOH said it has been conducting audits on licensed healthcare institutions to ensure compliance to regulations during this time.
FLU VACCINATIONS MAY BE ALLOWED SOON
The circular also listed flu jabs for adults as non-essential, although MOH said on Saturday that it is reviewing the resumption of some health services, including influenza vaccinations.
"To reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection during the circuit breaker period, individuals should not visit clinics for the sole purpose of influenza vaccination," said MOH.
"However, influenza vaccination can still be given to patients receiving chronic care should doctors ascertain that it is necessary for the patient’s health and well being.
"As we progress towards the end of the circuit breaker, MOH is reviewing the resumption of some of the health services, including influenza vaccination."
A general practitioner who works at a clinic in Aljunied told CNA that he hopes flu vaccinations can resume soon as the flu season this year is “bad”, and because COVID-19 symptoms are very similar to influenza in its early stages.
“In the current COVID-19 climate … if a simple injection can reduce the number of 'red herrings', wouldn’t it make more sense to make these vaccinations not only essential, but mandatory?” said the GP, who only wanted to be known as Dr Lee.
MOH had said on Apr 4 that clinics may remain open for essential services, but all non-essential appointments should be deferred and staffing at the clinics should be kept to a minimum. Where possible, services that are suitable for tele-consultation should be delivered remotely, the ministry had said.
Essential services include treatment of serious or emergency medical conditions, procedures or surgery to prevent deterioration of a patient’s condition and services that can be affected by time delay, such as in-vitro fertilisation.
Several types of procedures are not allowed if the patient is in a stable condition, including joint replacement, sports medicine services and scopes.
Allied health services such as psychology, social work and podiatry were initially classified as non-essential, but were later reclassified, with some restrictions.
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioners have also been allowed to resume essential services and TCM halls reopened for business on May 12.