SAF to hand over management of Covid-19 home recovery programme to MOH

Full-time national servicemen worked as home recovery buddies, providing the first line of contact to patients placed on the programme. PHOTO: NG ENG HEN/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will hand over management of the Covid-19 home recovery programme to the Ministry of Health (MOH), Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said on Wednesday (Nov 24).

He did not indicate when this handover would take place.

He wrote on Facebook that SAF commanders and other personnel tasked to manage the programme - which has become the default mode of care for Covid-19 patients with no or mild symptoms - have performed well.

"They streamlined processes, introduced digital solutions as well as ensured the right care for different groups of residents infected with Covid-19," he said.

He said now that the programme is stable, "it's a good time to hand over" to MOH, adding that a team of SAF advisers will "continue to remain embedded to ensure a smooth transition".

The home recovery programme, which was piloted on Aug 30, initially faced teething issues, with members of the public saying they were unable to reach MOH for advice on their specific situation and were at a loss over what to do next.

Subsequently, the Home Recovery Task Group was set up by the SAF on Sept 29 to help scale up and bolster the programme.

In his Facebook post, Dr Ng shared that more than 450 personnel from the Singapore Army, Republic of Singapore Navy and Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) were deployed.

Full-time national servicemen worked as home recovery buddies. They provided the first line of contact to patients placed on the programme, assisted them with administrative procedures and ensured that communication channels remained open.

Dr Ng also said that the RSAF's Innovation Office developed digital solutions, along with an automated SMS system, to streamline working processes that enabled a seamless management of large amounts of data from different parts of MOH.

"A big thank you to our servicemen who stepped up when duty called, and for making a positive difference in helping residents recover safely at home," he added. "This prevented our healthcare system from being overwhelmed."

The infection growth rate, which refers to the ratio of community cases in the past week over the week before, has been below one for 11 consecutive days.

On Tuesday, there were 1,782 new Covid-19 infections reported, with the weekly infection growth rate standing at 0.83.

A weekly infection growth rate that is consistently below one shows that the number of new weekly Covid-19 cases is falling.

The intensive care unit utilisation rate was 55.2 per cent on Tuesday.

In recent days, Singapore has further relaxed curbs on social and business activities.

Restaurants and eateries, as well as a select number of hawker centres and coffee shops, are allowed to accept groups of up to five fully vaccinated diners from different households.

People can gather in groups of up to five and receive a maximum of five visitors a day, up from two previously.

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