MOH tells healthcare institutions to stop accepting new foreign patients: report

(From left) Mount Elizabeth Novena hospital, Ng Teng Fong General Hospital and Tan Tock Seng Hospital. (Yahoo News Singapore file photos)

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Health (MOH) has advised all public and private healthcare institutions in Singapore to stop or defer accepting new foreign patients who do no reside in Singapore, with immediate effect.

According to The Straits Times, MOH issued an internal circular to all doctors in public and private hospitals, as well as private specialist clinics, instructing them to encourage their existing foreign patients to seek continued care in their home countries.

It said the move was necessary “to conserve limited healthcare resources for Singapore to cater to managing COVID-19 cases as well as the existing needs of our local patients”.

“Failure of the specialist to comply with the above may adversely impact public health and safety, and as such, will result in more stringent considerations of subsequent applications by MOH,” the circular said, according to The Straits Times.

Specialists who feel it is necessary for a foreign patient to remain in Singapore can apply to the MOH for a waiver. To qualify, the patient must have healthcare needs that cannot be met in his home country and be already under the specialist's active care.

The Straits Times reported the circular as saying that the specialist must certify in his application that delays in the treatment of the patient will lead to serious adverse outcomes.

Foreign patients who live in Southeast Asia and wish to have continued specialist care in Singapore must apply for the Asean Health Clearance (AHC) before their medical appointment. They must not have visited any hospital outside Singapore 14 days before the application to be eligible for the AHC.

The Straits Times said that MOH has neither confirmed nor denied the contents of the circular.

Singapore reported its first two deaths from the coronavirus on Saturday. On Friday, officials confirmed 40 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of infected patients on the island to 385.

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