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Hospital visits to resume; visitors need to be fully vaccinated or show negative COVID-19 test result: MOH

Hospital visits to resume; visitors need to be fully vaccinated or show negative COVID-19 test result: MOH

File photo of a healthcare worker preparing a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in Singapore. (File photo: Jeremy Long)

SINGAPORE: Hospital visitors must be vaccinated against COVID-19 or be able to show a valid negative COVID-19 test as part of a vaccination-differentiated approach that will be implemented at all hospitals when visitations resume on Thursday (Aug 19).

This is to further reduce the importation risk of COVID-19 into hospitals and safeguard hospital capacity, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Monday.

Hospital visits were suspended for two weeks after the detection of more COVID-19 community cases, including among hospital staff and patients.

When visits resume from Thursday, fully vaccinated visitors as well as people who have recovered from COVID-19 within the last 270 days and have a valid pre-event test exemption notice will be able to enter the hospital wards without the need for a pre-visit COVID-19 test.

Vaccinated visitors will be required to show their vaccination status on HealthHub or the TraceTogether app as proof of vaccination. Screenshots will not be allowed, said MOH.

UNVACCINATED, PARTIALLY VACCINATED VISITORS

Unvaccinated visitors must ensure they obtain a self-paid pre-visit COVID-19 test before their visit, said MOH.

They will not be allowed to enter the hospital wards unless they can show a valid negative antigen rapid test (ART) or polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test result obtained within the last 24 hours.

The test must be administered or supervised by MOH-approved COVID-19 test providers, and includes employer-directed tests performed at quick test centres, said the ministry.

Pre-visit COVID-19 testing can be done at any MOH-approved ART provider, added MOH. From Sep 1, hospitals may also assist unvaccinated visitors to make advance arrangements for a self-paid pre-visit test at the quick test centres.

As for partially vaccinated people, they "have not attained sufficient immune protection from COVID-19 vaccination and will be at risk for being infected, or may infect hospital patients when they visit their loved ones", said MOH.

Partially vaccinated people will be temporarily exempted from the testing requirement until Sep 30. From Oct 1, they will be required to show a negative pre-visit COVID-19 test result before being allowed to visit the hospital wards.

Visitors who are unwell or symptomatic should not visit patients in hospital wards, regardless of their vaccination status, said MOH.

The latest measures will complement existing efforts, such as routine testing for hospital staff and admitted patients, and the "vaccinate or regular test" regime for hospital staff that will come into effect on Oct 1, the ministry added.

30 MINUTES A VISIT

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 clusters in hospitals, the current visitation duration of 30 minutes will be maintained for all visitors regardless of vaccination status, said MOH.

Each patient can register up to two visitors for each admission, and receive up to two visits per day, during which only one visitor is allowed at the bedside. Patients who are very ill will be allowed five registered visitors, with two visitors allowed at the bedside each time.

Exceptions to extend the visit beyond 30 minutes will be given on a conditional, case-by-case basis to visitors of paediatric patients, birthing or post-partum mothers and patients requiring additional care support from caregivers, such as inpatients who have mental incapacities or visitors involved in caregiver training.

Hospitals may also exercise discretion to assist unvaccinated visitors with ART testing on a case-by-case basis under "exceptional and time-sensitive situations", said MOH.

These may include visiting patients with sudden life-threatening conditions, unexpected childbirth or delivery and people or elderly with severe physical limitations that restrict their access to pre-visit testing providers.

"MOH will calibrate the visitor management measures regularly and we seek the understanding of all visitors, as the measures will protect the patients and reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in our hospitals," said the ministry.

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Source: CNA/dv(rw)

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