MPs raise questions on Covid-19 home recovery programme, quarantine

Home recovery is the default for fully vaccinated people, but it is not rigid, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - In Parliament on Monday (Oct 4), Health Minister Ong Ye Kung and Senior Minister of State for Health Janil Puthucheary fielded a range of Covid-19-related questions from MPs.

Here are excerpts from the parliamentary session.

Ms Denise Phua (Jalan Besar GRC): Home recovery is meant to be the default for all fully vaccinated people. But what if some homes are just not suitable for this, such as rental flats, where facilities such as living rooms and bathrooms are shared?

Mr Ong: Home recovery is the default - provided individuals meet certain criteria. But while it is the default, it is not rigid.

Once a person is notified that he is on the home recovery programme (HRP), he is also given a phone number to call his HRP buddy.

And if he's not comfortable because of living conditions, or if he is living with a vulnerable senior or unvaccinated children, he can then make the request to be taken out of HRP and be taken to a community care facility. We will try our best to accommodate those requests.

Associate Professor Jamus Lim (Seng Kang GRC): Why the difference in quarantine measures for imported and local suspected Covid-19 cases?

Dr Janil: This is partly the result of the changing situation. Today, an increasing number of travellers are allowed to do a stay-home notice, and you will see that we will are further streamlining and optimising the alignment of our various measures.

The risk associated with travellers is partly to do with variants, and partly due to the robustness of the information that we are receiving, depending on where they're coming from - what we understand about the situation abroad, as well as the particulars of that individual's likely location if they are not in a dedicated facility here.

So we do take all these factors into account when dealing with the appeals, with respect to travellers.

Mr Yip Hon Weng (Yio Chu Kang): Will the Government consider providing information - such as the probability of infection and death rate - of getting the seasonal flu and dengue fever versus getting Covid-19? This will help allay fears and contextualise the likelihood of getting infected with the coronavirus.

Dr Janil: Indeed, we do need to communicate the risks of Covid-19 infection, complications and severe disease, and put these in context relative to other common diseases such as influenza, or even not-so-common diseases such as dengue, for the public to understand how they should go about their business when we reach some sort of equilibrium.

We will be putting more information out to the public, but at the moment we haven't reached that equilibrium yet. We're in the middle of a large wave, and there are very real anxieties around Covid-19, especially for the elderly, the vulnerable and the unvaccinated.

So I thank the member for his suggestion... We will do so when we are approaching an equilibrium, and we have plans to do so, but I think at the moment, the anxieties around the large number of cases, the waves that we're experiencing, are very real, and we shouldn't underplay it.

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