Home recovery to cover Covid-19 patients up to age 69; 7 in 10 infected will be eligible

The Ministry of Health's care pack for Covid-19 patients recovering at home. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF HEALTH

SINGAPORE - Seven in 10 of those who are infected with Covid-19 should be eligible for home recovery in the coming week, up from one-third currently.

This care management model for Covid-19 recovery has been the default recovery setting for suitable patients from Aug 30, when the pilot first started. Since then, 32 patients on this care model have been discharged.

From Saturday (Sept 18), this model will be expanded to those aged between 12 and 69, are fully vaccinated and do not have severe comorbidities or illnesses, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said at a press conference held by the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19 in Singapore on Friday.

Comorbidity refers to the presence of two or more diseases or medical conditions in a patient.

Other conditions that apply are that the patients must also be able to self-isolate in a room, preferably with an attached bathroom, and have no household members who are over 80 years old or are in one of the vulnerable groups - such as pregnant women or those with weakened immune response.

Data continues to show that those who are fully vaccinated are less at risk of severe illness, especially those under the age of 70.

The Ministry of Health said in a statement on Friday that the new care model allows for more Covid-19 patients to recover in the comfort of their home and preserve hospital capacity for those who truly need medical care, so that appropriate care can continue to be provided for all, even with higher infection numbers.

The Government is ramping up the capacity of its community care facilities (CCFs) by another 1,000 beds to divert demand from hospitals, as the majority of the patients have no symptoms or mild symptoms, Mr Ong said.

"But soon, the CCFs will also be full, which is why we must encourage home recovery. For the past two days, one-third of our cases go for home recovery.

"By next week, we hope this can go up steadily to about 70 per cent, and that will make our entire response system so much more resilient even as cases continue to rise," Mr Ong added.

The trajectory of the daily cases, how these daily cases translate into intensive care unit (ICU) admission, and the take-up of home recovery are critical parameters going forward, he said.

So far, 597 fully vaccinated Covid-19 patients, including 13 children between five and 11 years old, have successfully started their home recovery journey.

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Mr Ong said that in many places around the world, such as Japan, Europe, Britain and the United States, home recovery is the default.

Those who tested positive for Covid-19 and are suitable for home recovery can do so immediately, without having to be taken to a hospital or community care facility.

When posed a question on how home recovery could potentially result in an increase in community cases since patients recovering at home could easily pass the infections to their family members, Singapore's director of medical services Kenneth Mak said a framework has been crafted for those recovering at home.

He explained that a careful assessment is done for each case, with the Government looking at the home situation.

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Considerations include the ability to isolate themselves at home, whether facilities such as the kitchen and toilets are shared with others in the household, and the risk to others in the community, Associate Professor Mak said.

A 10-step guide for home recovery can be found at this website.

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