Children under 12 not allowed to visit patients at several hospitals despite relaxed Covid-19 rules

Tan Tock Seng Hospital is not allowing visitors who have received a health risk warning in the past seven days. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO READER

SINGAPORE - Several hospitals in Singapore are either discouraging or refusing to allow children below the age of 12 from visiting patients despite the easing of Covid-19 restrictions from Monday (Nov 22).

The Straits Times checked on updated rules at 21 hospitals here and found that 10, including Singapore General Hospital and Sengkang Community Hospital, are not allowing visitation rights for those below the age of 12.

Other hospitals with the rule include KK Women's and Children's Hospital, Outram Community Hospital and Farrer Park Hospital.

This condition for visits is posted on the hospitals' websites.

Meanwhile, Mount Alvernia Hospital has advised that children in this age group are "strongly discouraged" from visiting its patients.

While the hospitals have not stated reasons for not granting children visitation rights, under current medical guidelines, those below the age of 12 are not yet eligible for Covid-19 vaccination.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) had announced on Saturday that vaccinated people will be allowed to visit hospitals and residential care homes from Monday.

Each hospital patient can receive up to two visits daily, and register up to two visitors each time.

Only one visitor will be allowed at the bedside at any one time. Each visit can only last up to 30 minutes, though this may be extended under exceptional conditions.

Patients who are critically ill can admit up to five registered visitors, with two visitors allowed at the bedside each time.

However, several hospitals have spelt out additional rules.

For example, Ng Teng Fong General Hospital and Jurong Community Hospital have maintained the prohibition on visitors who had been on a cruise to nowhere or overseas within 14 days before their intended visit.

National University Hospital and Tan Tock Seng Hospital are not allowing visitors who have received a health risk warning in the past seven days.

Under MOH rules, visitors must don face masks at all times, as well as refrain from eating or drinking in hospital wards, using patients' toilets in the wards and sitting on patients' beds.

For residential care homes, up to four visitors are allowed with one designated visitor per visit. Each visit is also capped at 30 minutes.

Visitors to the hospitals or homes must also show a valid negative antigen rapid test (ART) result obtained within the last 24 hours.

Those who have recovered from Covid-19 within the past nine months or so exempted from this requirement.

All the visitors and patients or residents must also be fully vaccinated.

"If the patient/resident and/or visitor are not fully vaccinated, in-person visits will only be allowed under exceptional circumstances on a case-by-case basis, as advised by the hospitals and homes," said MOH on Saturday.

These exceptional conditions include patients in critical condition; paediatric patients; birthing or post-partum mothers; and patients requiring additional care support.

In such situations, the visitors must produce a negative ART test result obtained from any MOH-approved test providers within 24 hours prior to each visit.

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