50 to 60 people expected to be in month-long home recovery pilot for Covid-19 patients

Under the scheme announced last week, people who have mild or no symptoms may be allowed to recover at home.
Under the scheme announced last week, people who have mild or no symptoms may be allowed to recover at home.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - About 50 to 60 patients with mild or no symptoms are expected to be able to recover at home under a pilot that will run for a month from Monday (Aug 30).

The Ministry of Health (MOH) will then evaluate it to see if it can be expanded to more patients, said a ministry spokesman on Friday.

Two-thirds of Covid-19 patients currently recover in community care facilities, while the rest recuperate in hospital.

Under the scheme announced last week, people who have mild or no symptoms may be allowed to recover at home.

However, they must be fully vaccinated and isolated from everyone else in the home for the duration of their recovery.

Giving more details of the scheme, MOH said on Friday that patients will first be admitted to a medical facility for two to three days.

After they have been assessed to be medically fit for home recovery, doctors will look into the suitability of their household circumstances.

For instance, everyone in the home must be fully vaccinated. They should not be pregnant, elderly or immunocompromised, or have severe chronic medical conditions, as these are considered vulnerable groups.

Once patients are at home, MOH will keep tabs on their health through routine calls.

Patients and their household members will also be monitored through electronic tagging, to ensure they do not leave the premises. They will have access to 24/7 telemedicine services.

Each patient will also be given a home recovery pack, which will contain items such as an oximeter (to measure oxygen in the blood), thermometer, masks and hand sanitiser.

On the ninth day of their illness, they will have to take a polymerase chain reaction test to determine if they can be discharged from isolation.

The move is intended to free up hospital capacity and help the healthcare system return to "peacetime" operations.

Countries such as Australia, Canada and Britain have taken a similar approach and been successful, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said last week.

A ministry spokesman said on Friday: "We are making small but important steps as we transit into a Covid-19 resilient society.

"MOH will closely monitor the pilot's outcomes, and study if more patients may benefit from this mode of recovery in a safe manner."