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Restrictions on the number of visitors to hospitals, care homes extended to Aug 31 as part of COVID-19 measures

Restrictions on the number of visitors to hospitals, care homes extended to Aug 31 as part of COVID-19 measures

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

SINGAPORE: Restrictions on the number of visitors to hospitals and residential care homes will be extended to Aug 31, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Tuesday (Aug 2). 

"While the daily number of local COVID-19 cases has fallen gradually over the past week, our hospitals continue to face a high volume of both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients," said the ministry. 

Care homes have to manage an increased number of COVID-19 residents on-site, it added. 

The restrictions, which have been in place since Jul 7 amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, were set to end on Wednesday

HOSPITAL VISITS

All patients in hospitals will be allowed two pre-designated visitors for the duration of their admission, and only one visitor may be allowed at the bedside at any one time. 

Critically ill patients will be allowed up to five pre-designated visitors. Two of them may be allowed at the bedside at any one point in time.

The duration of a visit 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,” said the Health Ministry.

“Visitors are reminded not to eat or drink in the hospital wards, or use the toilets designated for patients in the wards. They should also avoid sitting on patients’ beds."

CARE HOMES

All residents in care homes will be allowed up to four pre-designated visitors, and only one of them may visit at any one time for up to 30 minutes. 

MOH said visitors should continue to schedule the visits with the home ahead of time. 

"Visitors should strictly adhere to prevailing safe management measures within the homes. This includes remaining within the designated visitor areas, outside of the wards," said MOH.

Visits may have to be suspended if a care home is managing active COVID-19 cases, the ministry added.

All visitors to hospitals and homes should ensure they are well and are "strongly encouraged" to test themselves with antigen rapid tests (ARTs) on the day of the visit.

They must wear masks with good filtration capability at all times while visiting hospitals or residential care homes, said the ministry. These include surgical masks and reusable masks that are made of two layers of fabric.

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

“We seek the understanding and cooperation of patients, residents, their family members and loved ones as we work to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in our healthcare institutions and residential care homes,” it added.

HEALTHCARE SYSTEM

About 60 per cent of Singapore residents have likely caught COVID-19 before, but it does not mean the country has "herd immunity", Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said in Parliament on Monday.

People must be realistic that in a big infection wave, the healthcare system will come under stress, he added. Waiting times at private clinics, polyclinics and hospitals will "inevitably go up".

"We did not tighten any social restrictions during the current wave ... However life is not as normal in our hospitals. Without additional social restrictions, our healthcare system is bearing the brunt of the current wave," he said.

"Healthcare workers have been very busy. Polyclinics and our general practitioner clinics also saw higher patient volumes."

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Source: CNA/vc(mi)

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