SINGAPORE, Aug 20 — Medically stable, vaccinated Covid-19 patients with mild or no symptoms may isolate at home starting August 30, under a pilot by the Ministry of Health (MOH).
To qualify for the pilot, the patients and their household members must all be fully vaccinated and none of them should be pregnant or belong to vulnerable groups such as the immunocompromised or people who are senior in age.
They also need to have a suitable home setting, where they can be isolated from the rest of their household.
During the period of the patients’ isolation at home, which will last for at least nine days, all the other household members will have to remain in home quarantine and take an antigen rapid test every day.
On the ninth day of illness, the patients will have to take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) swab test to determine if they can be discharged from isolation should the test result be negative, or if they carry a very low viral load.
Elaborating on the pilot, MOH’s director of medical services Kenneth Mak said at a press conference on Thursday (Aug 19) that if the patient’s PCR test continues to show high viral loads on the ninth day of illness, he or she would be required to continue isolating at home for at least another seven days.
MOH, which announced the pilot of this “home-centric care model” for medically stable Covid-19 patients in a statement on Thursday, said that the move is in line with the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the best practices of other developed countries.
Under the pilot, Covid-19 patients will first spend a few days at a medical facility, before moving to home isolation. By the time they are in isolation at home, the viral loads of the vaccinated patients would have dropped.
The higher vaccination rates here have also allowed MOH to review the treatment and care model for Covid-19 patients, given that vaccinated patients have a much lower risk of developing severe disease based on data here and abroad, the ministry said.
During the patients’ home isolation, they and their household members are required to remain in their residence. This will be tracked through electronic monitoring and surveillance checks through phone calls.
Patients will also be closely monitored for their health and safety during this time and will be provided with access to round-the-clock telemedicine services.
“We will closely monitor the pilot’s outcomes and study if more patients may benefit from this mode of recovery in a safe manner,” MOH said.
During the press conference by the Government’s Covid-19 task force, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said that should Singapore want to live with Covid-19 as an endemic disease, this pilot is a “crucial step to take”.
“It will further free up hospital capacity, enable the healthcare system to revert to peace-time operations and attend to the healthcare needs of the population.” — TODAY