In the past few weeks, Singapore has experienced a surge in COVID-19 cases, with over a thousand cases being recorded on Wednesday (22 September).
Needless to say, with the addition of the home recovery care management method kicking in, there has been substantial anxiety and confusion going on among Singaporeans.
MOH Says Ground Operations are ‘Much Strained’
On Thursday (23 September), the Ministry of Health (MOH) stated that ground operations are “much strained”. This is due to the growing number of COVID-19 cases and home recovery as the default for those with COVID-19.
From 15 September onwards, fully vaccinated individuals aged 12 to 50 who have contracted COVID-19 are to recover at home by default, provided they meet the criteria. On 18 September, this home recovery arrangement was extended to those up to aged 69.
Ever since the home recovery method has been put in place for COVID-19 patients, however, a number of them have voiced out complaints about the lack of clear directives from authorities, as well as a slow response rate from authorities.
In fact, there’s so much confusion and unclarity over the entire home recovery process that the authorities have yet to clear up, that some have decided to form their own Telegram support group.
In response to this, MOH has said that “The surge in cases has caused delays and we seek your patience and understanding. We are streamlining our operations and will get to you as soon as possible.” It added, “Try not to call quarantine hotline, MOH hotline, QSM hotline etc – this will just further jam up the system.”
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“We are setting up the home recovery buddy system and beefing up our resources, and the home recovery buddy will get back to you,” MOH also said.
This comes after a total of 1,457 new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases were recorded in Singapore. According to MOH, home recovery patients now make up 40% of the COVID-19 cases daily.
More on the Home Recovery System
In order for a COVID-19 patient to qualify for home recovery, the individual in question must have “no or mild symptoms”, and must have “no severe co-morbidities or illness”. In addition, those eligible for home recovery must be “able to self-isolate in a room, preferably with an attached bathroom”.
They should also not have household members who are more than 80 years old, or who belong to the vulnerable group. This includes individuals who are pregnant, have a weakened immune response or have multiple comorbidities.
Presently, due to the strain on hospital bed capacity, only those who are aged 80 and above, or unvaccinated individuals aged 70 and above will be admitted to hospitals and community care facilities. Individuals who have underlying illnesses will also be admitted to hospitals and community care facilities.
S’pore Ministers Speak Up
The sudden surge in cases the past few weeks, as well as the implementation of a new arrangement has certainly caused much concern among Singaporeans. Some of Singapore’s key leaders have also stepped out to address these concerns.
“I know this is a stressful time for those with family members who have COVID-19. Some of you have written to me to express your frustrations, or question why MOH takes so long to get in touch after you or a loved one has tested positive,” wrote Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a Facebook post on Wednesday (22 September).
He explained that the COVID-19 Case Management Task Group (CMTG) have a “very demanding task”, as they “administer the whole process for COVID-19 patients, from detection to recovery.” He added that the process included “assigning patients to appropriate care facilities, arranging for transport, and briefing them on what they need to do, especially those who choose Home Recovery.”
“They operate 24/7 in a rapidly changing situation. Case numbers are still growing, and we are doing our best to scale up our operations, and make sure all patients are well cared for,” assured PM Lee.
On Sunday (19 September), Health Minister Ong Ye Kung also urged youths who are fully vaccinated to recover at home if possible, stating that Singapore’s accident and emergency (A&E) departments and general wards have been “under pressure” due to the spike in COVID-19 cases recently.
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