SINGAPORE - Visits to hospital wards will not be allowed from Thursday (Aug 5) to Aug 18, to reduce potential transmission of Covid-19 there.
The move comes after the Ministry of Health (MOH) detected more community cases recently, including staff and patients of hospitals. Covid-19 clusters have emerged at Changi General Hospital and Yishun Community Hospital since Sunday.
In a statement on Wednesday afternoon, MOH said four patient groups will be exempted from this rule on a conditional and case-by-case basis.
They include patients who are very ill, patients who are babies or children, as well as mothers who are due to give birth or have delivered.
Patients requiring additional care support from caregivers will be exempted as well from the no-visit rule.
MOH cited visitors helping patients who have mental incapacities and family members who are undergoing caregiver training to better care for their loved ones after hospital discharge.
These groups of patients can have one visitor each day for a duration of no more than 30 minutes at the patient's bedside.
Said MOH: "For patients who are very ill, up to five pre-designated visitors may be registered, with a maximum of two visitors at the patient's bedside at any one time of no more than 30 minutes' visit duration."
Visitors who need to stay beyond 30 minutes for reasons such as caregiver training will be allowed only after they have tested negative on a supervised antigen rapid test.
They should take the test a maximum of 24 hours before their visit.
MOH added that visitors to the hospitals should not use the patients' toilets, sit on their beds or eat or drink in inpatient wards.
All visitors to the hospitals must don face masks with good filtration capability at all times, the ministry said.
These include surgical masks and reusable masks that are made of two layers of fabric.
MOH also said all patients who are unvaccinated will be approached by hospital staff to get the Covid-19 vaccine if their condition permits.
Those who have received their first dose at the hospital are advised to return to the same hospital for their second dose, it said.
The ministry had announced a cluster of four cases at Yishun Community Hospital on Sunday. The infections broke out in a ward with 32 patients who are mostly above 60 years old.
A new cluster of three cases was reported at Changi General Hospital on Tuesday – three days after MOH closed another cluster there.
On Wednesday morning, Changi General Hospital said the three new patient cases were not linked to the previous cluster of 20 cases.
The recent wave of infections follows Singapore’s first hospital cluster at Tan Tock Seng Hospital in April, which led to the hospital halting admissions for two weeks as the number of cases grew to 46 patients.
The Tan Tock Seng Hospital cluster was first detected when a nurse tested positive for the virus on April 27. Two patients linked to this cluster died because of Covid-19 complications.
Four wards, including Ward 9D that was the epicentre of the outbreak, were also locked down to curb the spread of the virus.
Of the 100 active local clusters reported on Tuesday, 83 were clusters linked to individual cases ranging between three and 77 infections. The rest were clusters associated with locations that included Apex Medical Centre (Jurong) and Punggol Primary School.
On Tuesday, the cluster linked to Jurong Fishery Port remained the largest open cluster, at 1,097 cases.