Joy and relief as family and friends able to visit loved ones in hospitals, nursing homes

Visitors at Singapore General Hospital on April 4, 2022. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - Visitors were happy and relieved at being able to see their loved ones again in hospitals and nursing homes as in-person visits resumed on Monday (April 4) after more than two months.

At public hospitals, including Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Sengkang General Hospital (SKGH) and Singapore General Hospital, The Straits Times observed organised queues on Monday morning of about 30 to 60 people waiting to visit patients in the wards.

Visitors ST spoke to said they were happy about the easing of restrictions and relieved that they could see their loved ones in the hospital.

At SKGH, ST counted about 10 people in the line for visitor registration at noon. This grew to a snaking queue of about 30 people by 12.30pm.

Signboards placed before the start of registration lines informed visitors of the relaxed measures, which now allow up to two fully vaccinated visitors at the patient's bedside at any one time.

Ms Athena Low, 23, who was at the hospital to visit her university mate, said the loosened measures are a great way to improve the mental health of patients.

Ms Low, who was warded for rhabdomyolysis, a serious muscle disease, in March, said: "I was so sad and lonely when I had to stay (in the hospital) for two nights with nobody visiting me. Having close ones visit is something that all patients look forward to, and it really does improve our stay, which for me was very gloomy."

Long queues were also seen at Changi General Hospital, where more than 30 people were in the line for visitor registration to general wards at 1.20pm.

Visitors had to fill in a registration form to declare they did not have any Covid-19 symptoms before joining the queue.

At National University Hospital (NUH), about 30 people were waiting to register for visitations at noon, with hospital staff ensuring that those in line stood 1m apart.

Ms Nur Sofie, who was at NUH to visit her grandmother, said the resumption of visits is good for families who have been kept apart by the restrictions.

The 25-year-old, who works in marketing, said: "My grandmother has been hospitalised for slightly more than a month. She was happy to see me physically and it was so nice to see her as well. We live together and the house has been so empty without her."

Mr Clifford Yow, 56, who was at NUH with his father to visit his mother, said he had not been able to see her for almost five months.

Mr Yow, who is self-employed, said his mother was admitted to the hospital after contracting Covid-19 and pneumonia.

"I took a half-day off to visit her. It's heartwarming to be able to eat with her again. I hope my sister will also be able to visit her over the next few days," he added.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) had announced a four-week suspension of visits from Jan 24 as a precautionary measure against the Omicron wave. The suspension was extended by another month in February, and for a second time till April 3.

MOH said visits are now allowed since the daily number of local Covid-19 cases has fallen, and the situation in hospitals and residential care homes is starting to improve.

Visits to hospitals and homes were also suspended in September last year after the Delta variant caused a spike in Covid-19 cases. Visits resumed on Nov 22 before they were paused again in January.

Guidelines for those visiting patients in hospitals

• Up to two registered visitors for patients. Critically ill patients can have five visitors, but only two are allowed at the patient's bedside.

• Patients and visitors must be fully vaccinated or medically ineligible for Covid-19 vaccines.

• Caregivers who are approved to stay beyond visiting hours must present negative antigen rapid test (ART) results within 24 hours.

• Visitors are encouraged to self-test with an ART kit and avoid visiting if they feel unwell.

• Visitors should avoid eating or drinking in wards or using patients' toilets. They should also avoid sitting on patients' beds.

Guidelines for those visiting residents in care homes

• Residents may register four designated visitors who are fully vaccinated or medically ineligible for Covid-19 vaccines.

• Only one visitor is permitted at a time and visits are capped at 30 minutes.

• Visitors are advised to schedule their visits ahead of time.

  • Additional reporting by Bryan Cheong, Cheong Chee Foong, and Kolette Lim

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