SINGAPORE - Testing for the coronavirus will be prioritised for residents and staff in all homes serving the elderly.
Staff who interact with elderly residents will also be housed on site or in hotels to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) on Saturday (May 2).
These are among additional support measures to be implemented for all homes serving the elderly, in order to protect vulnerable seniors. These include nursing homes, welfare homes, sheltered homes and adult disability homes.
Six nursing homes in Singapore, including the Lee Ah Mooi Old Age Home, have been hit by the coronavirus so far. So has Acacia Home in Admiralty, a welfare home for the destitute.
MOH began Covid-19 testing for this group from April 29 and expects to complete the tests by next week, while MSF started the tests from April 30 and will complete them on Saturday (May 2).
"Prior to this, we had been actively testing symptomatic residents and staff who developed acute respiratory infection or fever for Covid-19," said the statement.
The ministries are providing full funding support for the costs of all tests as well as all follow-up treatment that is required.
Other measures include ensuring staff who interact with elderly residents have a protected living environment to minimise the chances of them contracting the virus and bringing it into the homes.
The ministries will be working with the homes to house these employees at designated accommodation facilities on site or in hotels to reduce their exposure to the community during the circuit breaker period.
They will provide funding for staff who have to move into hotels, as well as meals, dedicated transport and daily necessities for the staff.
MOH will also provide support for nursing homes to enhance on-site accommodation spaces to improve safe distancing, where necessary.
Affected staff will get a $500 allowance to help them with the transition.
"We understand that the move could cause inconvenience to the affected staff and appreciate their sacrifices and efforts in keeping our elderly safe," said the ministries.
"We acknowledge and appreciate the dedication of all staff and the management of the homes, who have stepped up amid the challenges and are working hard to care for their residents."