SINGAPORE - With Covid-19 now a manageable disease, Singapore should "drastically simplify" its healthcare protocols, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
"No more complicated flow charts. People must be clear what to do if they test positive, or if they come into contact with someone who is infected," he said in a live address to the nation on Saturday (Oct 9).
Mr Lee also acknowledged Singaporeans' concerns and anxiety about the home recovery programme, and gave the assurance that everyone recovering at home will get the care and support they need.
People are fearful of Covid-19, he noted. "They fret about the risk to the rest of their household. They also worry whether they will receive adequate care and support at home, should they get worse."
"Earlier, our service delivery fell short. But we have worked hard to fix this, and put things right," he said. "If at any point you need to be admitted to hospital or a Covid-19 treatment facility, we will get you there."
Relying on home recovery will be the norm for Covid-19 cases, as part of Singapore's strategy of living with the virus, Mr Lee said.
With vaccinations, Covid-19 has become a treatable, mild disease for most people, especially if they are young or not-so-young but fully vaccinated.
"The threat of Covid-19 is now mainly to seniors: 60 and above if you are not vaccinated, or 80 and above even if you are vaccinated. So for 98 per cent of us, if we catch Covid-19, we can recover by ourselves at home, just as we would if we had the flu."
That is why Singapore is shifting to home recovery as the norm, he added.
"You can get well in a familiar home setting, without the stress and bother of admitting yourself into a care facility."
He said this will greatly ease the strain on hospitals, doctors and nurses, and free up badly needed beds for Covid-19 patients who are at high risk of becoming seriously ill, especially the elderly.
But a person can go to an isolation facility to recover if there are vulnerable family members at home, he added.
Mr Lee said people also need to know what they can do themselves, by taking personal and social responsibility: "Test ourselves as necessary, self-isolate if we test positive, consult a doctor if we have symptoms.
"Knowing what to do, we will no longer find Covid-19 such a scary disease. Let's all do our part to keep everyone safe, in particular the vulnerable ones among us."