Home recovery to be default for bulk of jabbed patients

Most people who are vaccinated and contract Covid-19 will be put on home recovery from today, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said yesterday.

This care management model will apply to those who are fully vaccinated, aged 12 to 50 years old, have mild or no symptoms, and have no severe comorbidities or illnesses, it added.

They should also not have household members above the age of 80 or who are in one of the vulnerable groups, such as pregnant women, those with a weakened immune response or those with multiple comorbidities.

Comorbidity refers to the presence of two or more diseases or medical conditions in a patient.

The latest move "will reserve our hospital capacity for those who truly need the medical care so that we can continue to provide appropriate care for all, even with higher infection numbers", said MOH.

The ministry had previously said it expects the number of daily Covid-19 cases to exceed 1,000 soon, with more cases picked up through intensified testing.

When a person tests positive, home recovery can start immediately if he meets the criteria.

The individual will need to set aside a room with an attached bathroom, said MOH. There is no need to go to a hospital or community care facility.

Covid-19 patients on home recovery will undergo an initial remote assessment by a telemedicine provider on the first day of their home recovery to ensure that they are clinically well.

These individuals will also be issued an isolation order and may be tagged with an electronic monitoring device to ensure that they remain in their designated room at home.

Covid-19 patients who are on home recovery may contact the designated telemedicine service provider to arrange for a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) swab on Day 6 of the illness to end the home recovery period sooner, said MOH.

If the test result meets the discharge criteria - a negative test or low viral load - patients can be discharged from home recovery on Day 7.

Otherwise, the home recovery period ends on Day 10 without further tests, so long as the patient is well.

After discharge, Covid-19 patients will no longer be subject to any movement restrictions, although they should still minimise social interactions for the next seven days, said MOH.

MOH said earlier that from Sept 11, the quarantine period has been cut from 14 days to 10 days from the last exposure to a Covid-19 case, provided that the quarantined person tests negative for Covid-19 at the end of quarantine.

Yesterday, MOH said quarantined individuals who received quarantine orders before Sept 11, have completed 10 or more days in quarantine and have a negative PCR test result will progressively have their quarantine orders rescinded earlier.

They will then have to continue to self-administer antigen rapid tests (ARTs) from Day 11 to Day 14 of their date of last exposure.

MOH said that now, about seven in 10 close contacts of community cases prefer to be quarantined at home, and that it has seen good compliance with home quarantine requirements. It added: "Our contact tracers will continue to conduct manual contact tracing for sensitive clusters like schools, hospitals or markets frequented by seniors."

For less sensitive infection cases, an SMS will be sent to all newly confirmed Covid-19 cases, notifying them that under the Infectious Diseases Act, they are required to tell their household contacts to register themselves as household close contacts through an online portal (https://go.gov.sg/quarantinereg).

Close household contacts must also provide the last date of exposure with the Covid-19 case and a contact number. They will then receive an electronic quarantine order that will indicate the quarantine period and provide instructions on booking a PCR test. They can then go online to schedule entry and exit PCR tests - for the start and end of the quarantine period - at a regional screening centre near their home.

They will be allowed to travel to the regional screening centres for the PCR tests and collect free ART kits. They then have to administer their own ART daily and upload their results.

People whose homes are not suitable for quarantine can still request to be sent to a government quarantine facility, said MOH.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 15, 2021, with the headline 'Home recovery to be default for bulk of jabbed patients'. Subscribe