COVID-19 Home Recovery: who is eligible, how it should be done

A quarantine facility in Singapore.
A quarantine facility in Singapore. (PHOTO: Reuters/Feline Lim)

SINGAPORE — From 15 September (Wednesday), Singapore will expand its COVID-19 Home Recovery scheme, to allow more infected individuals to self-isolate, and take the necessary health precautions at home with telehealth monitoring support.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a media release on Tuesday that Home Recovery will be the default care management model for infected individuals who are:

  • Fully vaccinated;

  • Aged 12 to 50 years old;

  • Have no or mild symptoms;

  • Have no severe co-morbidities or illnesses;

  • Have no household members who are more than 80 years old, or are in one of the vulnerable groups (e.g. pregnant individuals; with weakened immune response; or with multiple co-morbidities).

Parents of children who test positive for COVID-19 can also bring their children home to recover, if the child is at least five years old and has no co-morbidities or underlying illnesses. However, for the child’s safety, a clinical assessment would first have to be done at a hospital before the child can return home to recover.

MOH has listed 10 important steps to take, should one gets tested positive for COVID-19. They are:

  1. While waiting for polymerase chain reaction test result: Patients should immediately return home via private transport (car or taxi) and self-isolate at home until they receive their results. They should physically distance themselves from others and keep their masks on. They should also isolate themselves in a room with an attached bathroom. They will generally be informed of their results within 24 to 48 hours; alternatively they may check their results via the HealthHub app.

  2. Upon notification of COVID-positive result: Patients should continue to isolate themselves in a room, and not have any physical contact with household members. The room should be well-ventilated, and windows should be kept open.

  3. If you fulfil the Home Recovery criteria: Patients can expect to receive an SMS within 24 hours, with a link to provide their details, to start their Home Recovery safely, If they are unsuitable for Home Recovery, MOH will make the arrangements for them to recover at a community care facility or hospital.

  4. Thermometer and pulse oximeter: Those patients who have a thermometer and a pulse oximeter at home should start monitoring their temperature, pulse rate and oxygen saturation rate at least once a day. If they do not have the two items, a Care Pack will be sent to them. When the Care Pack is delivered to them, they can pass their TraceTogether token to the officer, so that close contacts can be identified for contact-tracing purposes.

  5. Household members: Patients must inform all their household members living in the same residential address to register themselves as close contacts via the link sent to them. This is so that an electronic Quarantine Order (QO) can be issued to them.

  6. Start of Home Recovery: A telemedicine provider will conduct an initial remote assessment with patients to ensure they are clinically well. An officer - called a Home Recovery Buddy - will be in touch to walk the patients through the journey.

  7. Do not leave the room during the Home Recovery period: The patients should not receive visitors to their household during this period. They should maintain a high level of personal hygiene by washing their hands regularly with soap.They should perform contactless transactions to get food/groceries delivered for the household, and ensure items are bagged securely to reduce exposure to others.

  8. Monitor health condition diligently every day: Patients are to submit their temperature, pulse rate and oxygen saturation rate readings at least once a day via the link provided in their Home Recovery Booklet. They may contact their designated telemedicine provider if they are feeling unwell, or call 995 in the event of medical emergencies.

  9. PCR test on Day Six: Patients can opt to take a PCR test on Day Six of their Home Recovery to assess their recovery status. They can contact their designated telemedicine provider for the PCR test which will be done at their home. If the test is negative or shows low viral load, they are discharged and can resume daily activities on Day Seven. Otherwise, they should continue to isolate themselves until Day 10, when they will be discharged so long as they are well.

  10. After discharge from Home Recovery: Patients are advised to minimise social interactions for the next seven days. If they require more rest, they should approach their telemedicine provider for a medical certificate.

INFOGRAPHIC: Ministry of Health
INFOGRAPHIC: Ministry of Health

Patients should note that in the event that they are undergoing Home Recovery and household members are on Quarantine Order (QO), they may be discharged earlier than the household members.

MOH said that this is not illogical, because for a fully-vaccinated infected individual, the viral load will decrease very quickly and typically clears by Day Seven. Whereas for someone exposed to the virus and on QO, the viral load may take up to 10 days to build up and for the illness to manifest itself.

Quarantine Order for household contacts of patients

Household contacts of COVID-19 patients must register themselves via this online portal, and provide the last date of exposure with the COVID-19 patients and a contact number.

An electronic Quarantine Order (eQO) will be sent to registrants to indicate the quarantine period and instructions to book PCR tests at the start and end of the 10-day QO. They should make their own way to a nearby Regional Screening Centre to take their PCR tests.

At the Regional Screening Centre, they will collect free Antigen Rapid Test (ART) kits, and are required to do a self-administered ART every day and report their ART results by 12 noon.

On Day 10 of their quarantine, if their exit PCR test is negative, their will receive a rescindment SMS to en their QO. They are advised to continue with daily self-administered ART from Days 11 to 14.

Should they receive a Health Risk Warning or Health Risk Alert at the same time as the eQO, the quarantine will take precedence.

INFOGRAPHIC: Ministry of Health
INFOGRAPHIC: Ministry of Health

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