Coronavirus pandemic

More healthcare services, including some surgical ops, to resume from June 2

The services will be prioritised by healthcare providers based on necessity and available capacity.
The services will be prioritised by healthcare providers based on necessity and available capacity.PHOTO: ST FILE

Cancer screening, surgical operations for advanced cataracts, flu vaccinations and dental procedures are among healthcare services that can be carried out from next month.

These are some of the treatments under the broad areas of specialist outpatient, allied health, community-based and preventive health services, as well as medical procedures and chronic disease management, that will be accessible to patients from June 2, the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced yesterday.

Other examples of procedures that can soon proceed are joint-related operations for patients with severe impairment, scopes for high-risk groups and diabetic foot screening.

Treatments will be prioritised by healthcare providers based on necessity and available capacity.

Appropriate safe distancing and precautionary measures will have to be taken, said MOH.

For instance, measures to minimise aerosol generation during dental services have to be in place. Such aerosols - tiny particles or droplets that remain suspended in air - may be produced by high-speed dental instruments during procedures and represent an infection hazard as they could be contaminated with micro-organisms and blood.

Complementary healthcare services such as traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) will also resume, though these have to be one-to-one sessions and by appointment only. TCM acupuncture will also be allowed for all conditions, said MOH.

The Straits Times had reported last week that many elective procedures in hospitals that had been put on hold to free up capacity for Covid-19 patients, would be gradually resumed.

Public hospitals had been deferring non-urgent and non-essential healthcare services progressively since February to ensure there would be enough capacity to treat Covid-19 patients who need hospitalisation.

As part of circuit breaker measures that started on April 7, TCM practitioners at TCM medical halls were allowed to only provide consultation and dispense herbal medicine to their patients, but the restrictions have been gradually eased since then.

The latest was on May 12, when all medical halls were allowed to start selling retail products.

This was in addition to some 130 TCM medical halls attached to registered TCM practitioners that were previously allowed to open on May 5 to sell retail products.

On the latest announcement yesterday, the ministry will inform service providers of the changes through its usual channels, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 20, 2020, with the headline 'More healthcare services, including some surgical ops, to resume from June 2'. Subscribe