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Visits to hospital wards, residential care homes to remain suspended until Nov 21 amid rise in COVID-19 cases

Visits to hospital wards, residential care homes to remain suspended until Nov 21 amid rise in COVID-19 cases

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

SINGAPORE: Visits to hospital wards and residential care homes will remain suspended until Nov 21, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Thursday (Oct 21).

“This will protect healthcare capacity and vulnerable seniors during this period when COVID-19 cases in the community are rising,” MOH said in a media release.

Visits to hospital wards had previously been suspended until Oct 23, while visits to residential care homes had been halted until Oct 24.

“In the past two weeks, the rise in COVID-19 cases in the community has increased COVID-19 admissions to the hospitals,” MOH said.

“There were also several new COVID-19 clusters amongst patients and residents in the hospitals and residential care homes.”

CASE-BY-CASE BASIS

Selected patient groups are still allowed to have visitors on a case-by-case basis. These include patients who are in critical condition, patients who are children, and birthing or post-partum mothers.

Patients who require caregivers are also among the groups who are allowed to have visitors. "Examples of caregivers include those providing assistance to inpatients who have mental incapacities or family members who are undergoing caregiver training to better care for their loved ones after hospital discharge," MOH said.

Most groups are allowed to have one visit per day from one pre-designated visitor. However, patients who are in critical condition can have up to five pre-designated visitors. Up to two visitors are allowed at the bedside of a patient in critical condition at any one time.

All visitors to hospital wards during this period will need to produce a valid negative antigen rapid test (ART) result obtained within the last 24 hours of each visit, as administered or supervised by MOH-approved COVID-19 test providers.

"This is a mandatory requirement for all visitors regardless of vaccination status, except for persons who have recovered from COVID-19 and are able to present a valid pre-event test exemption notice," MOH said.

Residential care homes can also allow visits in exceptional cases, such as when a resident is critically ill.

"These visitors would be subject to visitor management measures as advised by the residential care homes," MOH said.

MOH said that it will review and calibrate measures as the situation develops.

"We seek the understanding and cooperation of patients/residents, and their family members and loved ones as we work to safeguard them and the staff to reduce the risk of COVID-19 importation and transmission in our healthcare institutions and residential care facilities," the ministry said.

BOOSTER SHOTS

MOH added that booster vaccinations have been ramped up for healthcare workers and seniors, including those living in residential care homes.

"As residents of care homes tend to be more susceptible to severe illness if infected, we strongly encourage all next-of-kin of residents to support their loved ones in getting vaccinated and/or receiving their booster dose once eligible," the ministry said.

"This would ensure that they have a high level of immunity and are protected from severe disease."

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Source: CNA/kg(ac)

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