SINGAPORE - Doctors have been advised to give five days of sick leave to patients with respiratory symptoms, such as fever, cough, sore throat and runny nose, in an effort to prevent further community spread of the coronavirus.
Noting that many of local confirmed cases had continued to mix with people and go to work even after falling ill, the Ministry of Health (MOH) urged people and employers to "follow strictly the five-day MC regime that has been put in place".
"Most patients with respiratory symptoms are not infected with Covid-19. But we must take extra precautions. It is therefore important that anyone with respiratory symptoms (such as fever, cough, sore throat and runny nose) seek medical treatment early, and stay home throughout their illness."
It added: "Patients must recognise the importance of staying home when unwell. Mixing in large crowds, or continuing to go to work or school when ill, even with mild symptoms, will put others at risk."
People who do not recover within five days will be referred for further medical assessments and tests. They are encouraged to return to the same doctor when they seek further treatment.
On Friday (Feb 14), the ministry announced that nine more coronavirus cases have been confirmed here, bringing the total number of those who have been infected to 67. The outbreak originated in Wuhan, China last December and has spread to dozens of countries including Thailand, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, Britain and France.
MOH is also reactivating its network of 900 General Practitioner clinics which provide subsidised treatment, investigations and medications during public health outbreaks to care for patients with respiratory symptoms.
These GPs, designated Public Health Preparedness Clinics (PHPCs), were activated previously to deal with haze and the H1N1 influenza.
Singapore citizens and permanent residents will pay a flat subsidised rate of $10 for their consultation and treatment of the condition at PHPCs . Pioneer Generation and Merdeka Generation seniors pay $5.
Patients with respiratory symptoms can also go to polyclinics, where the subsidies will also apply.
The ministry said that its network of PHPCs will be progressively activated from Tuesday (Feb 18).They have been guided on the appropriate care protocols according to the assessed risk and diagnosis of each patient, and will be supplied with the necessary personal protection equipment.
"The activation of PHPCs and polyclinics will allow us to enhance and tighten disease surveillance," MOH said. "We would be better able to detect the virus earlier, and reduce the risk of further transmission."
It stressed, however, that these measures will only be effective if people play their part and exercise social responsibility. This includes washing their hands regularly and using hand sanitisers when soap and water are not available, as well as avoiding touching their faces unnecessarily.
Members of the public can refer to www.flugowhere.gov.sg for the updated list of preparedness clinics. They can also identify the preparedness clinics from the PHPC decal at these clinics.