SINGAPORE — Personal visits to hospital wards and residential care homes will resume from next Monday (4 April), following a months-long suspension due to the Omicron wave in Singapore.
In the announcement by the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Thursday, MOH said such visits are only allowed for those who have been fully vaccinated, be it patients, residents, or visitors, following a drop in local COVID-19 cases.
But a concession will be made for those who are medically ineligible for the vaccines.
"Under exceptional circumstances, hospitals and homes may also exercise flexibility in their visitor policies on a case-by-case basis," MOH added.
Non-fully vaccinated visitors who are allowed under exceptional cases to visit by hospitals and homes are required to show a negative antigen rapid test (ART) result obtained within the last 24 hours of each visit.
The test must be administered or supervised by MOH-approved COVID-19 test providers and are to be self-funded by the visitor.
Fully-vaccinated or medically-ineligible visitors are also "highly encouraged" by MOH to perform a self-test prior to visiting at the hospital, MOH said.
"While there is no need to show proof of a negative test result prior to entry to the ward or home, visitors are encouraged to exercise social responsibility and not to visit their loved ones if they are feeling unwell," it added.
Visitors who are approved to stay beyond the visiting hours, such as caregivers, will need to show proof of a valid ART result done within the last 24 hours. For such fully vaccinated or medically ineligible visitors, they can perform an unsupervised self-administered ART and present a time-stamped photo of the dated ART result and photo ID for verification.
Each hospitalised patient will be allowed to register up to two visitors for each admission, but those who are critically ill will be allowed five registered visitors for each admission.
To avoid crowding in the wards, two visitors will be allowed at the bedside at any one time. All visitors approved to enter hospital wards must don face masks with good filtration capability at all times. These include surgical masks and reusable masks that are made of two layers of fabric.
Each fully vaccinated home resident is allowed to see up to four designated fully vaccinated or medically ineligible visitors, with one designated visitor allowed per visit, and each visit capped at 30 minutes.
"Visitors should strictly adhere to prevailing safe management measures within the homes," said MOH, adding that visits may have to be suspended if a home is assessed to have active COVID-19 cases.
"We also seek the patience and understanding of visitors that some homes may require more time to put in place the necessary processes to facilitate visits and may start off with a smaller number of visitors to allow them to stabilise their operational processes before accommodating a larger number of visits," MOH added.
The hospitals and homes will continue to support alternative methods of communication such as through telephone or video calls for all patients or residents, said MOH, noting that it will also review these measures regularly.
A four-week suspension of personal visits to hospital wards and residential care homes was initially announced on 24 January to last through to 20 February, but it was later extended twice to 3 April.
"We understand the past months have been difficult for patients or residents, and their family members and loved ones as in-person visits were suspended, and thank everyone for their understanding," said MOH.
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