Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Singapore says visits to all hospital wards to cease for 2 weeks

Only a few limited exceptions will be allowed, at the discretion of the hospital.

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An interim measure to reduce potential Covid-19 transmission in hospitals will see visits to all wards ceased, with some exceptions, from Aug 5 to 18, said the Singapore health ministry (MOH) on Wednesday.

CNA is reporting that this comes after more Covid-19 community cases were detected recently, which include staff members and patients of hospitals.

On Tuesday, MOH reported that Changi General Hospital (CGH) was among one of eight new clusters in Singapore.

“With proactive and regular testing in the hospital, we have detected three cases of Covid-19 in a ward,” said CGH in a Facebook post.

“These cases are not linked to the previous CGH cluster which was officially closed by the Ministry of Health on July 31.” That cluster, which had 20 cases, was closed after no cases were linked to it for 28 days.

On Wednesday, MOH said, “Any detection of cases within a hospital will invariably lead to a ward closure, limiting movements of patients and staff in and out of the affected ward.”

Affected patients and staff will also be placed in quarantine.

Such measures, while necessary to control further transmission of the virus, will have an adverse impact on hospitals’ capacity in caring for patients by reducing the availability of hospital staff and bed capacities, said MOH.

As an interim measure to reduce potential transmission in hospitals, visits will stop from Aug 5 to 18.

This is except for some very restricted patient groups who will be allowed visitation on a conditional and case-by-case basis, as assessed by the hospital.

The groups include: patients whose conditions have turned very ill; paediatric patients; birthing and post-partum mothers; and patients requiring additional care support from caregivers.

For example, assistance of inpatients who have mental incapacities and family members who are undergoing caregiver training to better care for their loved ones after hospital discharge.

For such patients, only one visitor is allowed per day with visit duration of no more than 30 minutes at the bedside, said MOH.

For patients who are very ill, up to five pre-designated visitors may be registered, with a maximum of two visitors at the patient’s bedside at any one time for no more than 30 minutes visit duration.

MOH added that all visitors to the hospitals must wear face masks with good filtration capability at all times.

The ministry reminded potential visitors that there must be no eating or drinking in the inpatient wards, and visitors must not use the patients’ toilets in the wards and must avoid sitting on patients’ beds.

The ministry said that all patients – inpatient and outpatient – who are unvaccinated will be approached by the hospital healthcare team on Covid-19 vaccination if clinically appropriate.

Patients who receive their first dose of vaccine at the hospital should return to the same hospital for their second dose, said MOH.

“Vaccinated patients will protect other patients in the hospital and reduce the risk of clusters in the hospitals,” it added.

MOH said it will review the above measures regularly.

“We seek the understanding and cooperation of all Singaporeans as we make adjustments to protect our patients and hospitals during this transition period towards a Covid-resilient society.”

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