GPs to play bigger role in deciding which Omicron patients need closer supervision

Visitors at a clinic in Tampines on Oct 11, 2021. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - General practitioners will, from Thursday (Jan 6), play a bigger role in deciding which Covid-19 patients require closer supervision, and which ones can safely recover at home.

These changes are part of a "broader shift towards personal responsibility and self-management", said the Ministry of Health (MOH) in a statement on Wednesday.

The shift comes amid growing evidence that the new Omicron variant, although more transmissible, is less severe.

People who are considered low risk and have only mild symptoms will be told to self-isolate at home for 72 hours, and will be allowed to leave their residence once they test negative at the end of this time period.

They will also be given a medical certificate for five days, which will give them time for their symptoms to resolve.

If their symptoms do not improve, they should go back to the doctor.

Their close contacts will receive health risk warnings, and will have to monitor their health for seven days, taking antigen rapid tests on the first and seventh day. 

They will also have to take such tests when they wish to go out in the intervening period.

In contrast, those who are considered to be at higher risk - such as elderly, pregnant and immunocompromised individuals, as well as those with significant symptoms - will have to take both rapid tests and polymerase chain reaction tests.

If they test positive, they will be issued isolation orders for 10 or 14 days, depending on their vaccination status.

"Our primary care doctors will be key, as we allow patients to recover at home and avoid hospitalisation," MOH said.

The ministry added that it will monitor the situation in the coming weeks and make further adjustments, in order to allow more people to recover under the shorter 72-hour isolation protocol.

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