No visitors allowed at all Singapore wards from Sept 24 for a month as more hospital workers, patients get Covid-19

Higher-risk patients visiting emergency departments will have to undergo an antigen rapid test for the coronavirus.. — Picture by TODAY
Higher-risk patients visiting emergency departments will have to undergo an antigen rapid test for the coronavirus.. — Picture by TODAY

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SINGAPORE, Sept 22 — A greater number of hospital staff members, patients and visitors are being infected by Covid-19, so all hospitals here will not be allowing visitors from Friday (Sept 24) until Oct 23 to curb the disease spread and reduce the strain on hospital bed capacity.

Higher-risk patients visiting emergency departments will have to undergo an antigen rapid test for the coronavirus.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a press release today that these tightened measures will apply to all public, community and private hospitals.

With the rise in community cases over the past weeks, the ministry said that it has detected more Covid-19 cases among hospital staff members, patients and visitors.

“The detection of these cases had led to ward closures and staff quarantine, which had impacted some hospitals, putting a strain on hospital bed capacity and staffing at a time when more hospital beds are ramped up to care for hospitalised Covid-19 patients,” MOH said.

The latest move will help to safeguard hospital capacity, it added.

Selected exceptions for visits

Although visits to hospital wards will be suspended from this Friday to Oct 23, both dates inclusive, hospitals will make case-by-case exceptions for visitors of the following patients:

·      Patients who are in critical condition

·      Patients who are young children

·      Birthing or postpartum mothers

·      Patients requiring extra care support from caregivers such as those who are mentally incapacitated or family members who are undergoing caregiver training

Such patients will only be allowed one pre-designated visitor who may enter the ward once a day.

Patients in critical condition may have up to five pre-designated visitors with a maximum of two visitors at the patient’s bedside at any one time.

All visitors will need to produce a valid negative antigen rapid test or polymerase chain reaction test result obtained within the last 24 hours of each visit.

All visitors regardless of vaccination status must comply with the conditions except those who have recovered from Covid-19 and are able to present a valid pre-event test exemption notice.

Visitors must also wear a face mask with good filtration capability such as surgical masks or two-layered reusable masks. 

There must be no eating or drinking in the inpatient wards. Visitors must not use the patients’ toilets in the wards and must avoid sitting on patients’ beds.

Testing at emergency units

From Friday, higher-risk patients, regardless of the vaccination status, must take a mandatory antigen rapid test at 24-hour emergency clinics or departments.

Higher-risk patients include:

Those who are on beds in emergency rooms for prolonged observation, whether in the short-stay unit or extended diagnostic and treatment unit

Those who are required to undergo mask-off assessment or procedures lasting for 15 minutes or more, or both

Visitors or caregivers accompanying patients during the observation period will also have to take an antigen rapid test.

The Government will subsidise the costs of antigen rapid tests for both vaccinated and unvaccinated patients until the end of this year. 

Accompanying persons may have to pay for the tests, depending on the hospitals.

MOH said that it has increased the frequency of surveillance testing for hospital workers, as well as vendors who work in the hospital, in order to identify at the earliest possible time the staff members who are infected with Covid-19. — TODAY

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