SINGAPORE: In-person visits to hospitals and residential care homes are set to resume on Monday (Apr 4) after they were suspended for more than two months amid the Omicron COVID-19 wave.
Such visits were suspended on Jan 24 for an initial four weeks to protect patients and healthcare workers as COVID-19 cases spiked, said the Ministry of Health (MOH).
The suspension was extended again in February until Mar 20, and then further extended until Apr 3.
MOH said on Thursday that the daily number of local COVID-19 cases has since fallen, and that the situation in hospitals and care homes is “starting to improve”.
In-person visits are only allowed for people who are fully vaccinated.
“As a concession, we will allow visits for individuals (ie patients, residents and visitors) who are medically ineligible for COVID-19 vaccination,” said MOH.
“Under exceptional circumstances, hospitals and Homes may also exercise flexibility in their visitor policies on a case-by-case basis.”
Those who are not fully vaccinated are allowed under “exceptional cases” to visit hospitals and care homes. They have to show a negative antigen rapid test (ART) result within the last 24 hours of each visit.
This ART must be administered or supervised by MOH-approved COVID-19 test providers, including those taken at combined test centres or quick test centres.
Fully vaccinated or medically ineligible visitors are highly encouraged to perform a self-test prior to visiting their loved ones at the hospital, said MOH.
VISITS TO HOSPITALS
Each patient will be allowed to register up to two visitors for each admission. Patients who are critically ill will be allowed five registered visitors.
To avoid crowding in wards, two visitors will be allowed at the bedside at any one time.
Visitors have to abide by hospital visiting hours. Those who are approved to stay beyond the visiting hours have to show proof of a valid ART test done within the last 24 hours.
For those who are fully vaccinated or medically ineligible, they can perform an unsupervised self-administered ART and present a time-stamped photo of the result and photo identification for verification.
All visitors who enter hospital wards must wear “masks with good filtration capability at all times”. These include surgical masks and reusable masks with at least two layers of fabric.
“Visitors are reminded not to eat or drink in the hospital wards or use the patients’ toilets in the wards. They should also avoid sitting on patients’ beds,” said MOH.
VISITS TO CARE HOMES
Each fully vaccinated resident is allowed up to four designated visitors, with one designated visitor allowed per visit, and each visit capped at 30 minutes.
These visitors have to be fully vaccinated or medically ineligible for vaccination. They should also adhere to the safe management measures within the homes.
Visits may have to be suspended if a care home is managing active COVID-19 cases.
“We also seek the patience and understanding of visitors that some homes may require more time to put in place the necessary processes to facilitate visits and may start off with a smaller number of visitors to allow them to stabilise their operational processes before accommodating a larger number of visits,” said MOH.
Visitors should continue to schedule visits with the home ahead of time.
MOH said it would review these measures regularly, in line with the COVID-19 situation.
“We understand the past months have been difficult for patients/residents, and their family members and loved ones as in-person visits were suspended, and thank everyone for their understanding,” said MOH.
“We seek their continued cooperation to comply with the safe management measures to keep patients/ residents safe as in-person visits are resumed.”