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Covid-19 home recovery system ‘much strained’: MOH issues FAQ guide, urges people to avoid jamming hotlines

SINGAPORE — With the system “much strained” by the recent surge in Covid-19 cases and home recovery now the default, the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Thursday (Sept 23) released a set of answers to frequently asked questions to guide patients who are recovering from the disease at home.

Covid-19 home recovery system ‘much strained’: MOH issues FAQ guide, urges people to avoid jamming hotlines

A home care pack with pictured items above will be delivered to patients without an oximeter at home.

  • The Ministry of Health has issued answers to FAQs on home recovery for Covid-19 patients
  • This came in the midst of frustrations over a lack of clear instructions from the authorities
  • At present, up to 40 per cent of daily Covid-19 cases are put on a home recovery programme
  • MOH urged those recovering at home not to call the hotlines because this would congest the system further

 

SINGAPORE — With the system “much strained” by the recent surge in Covid-19 cases and home recovery now the default, the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Thursday (Sept 23) released a set of answers to frequently asked questions to guide patients who are recovering from the disease at home.

This came in the midst of frustrations in recent days from some patients on the home recovery scheme over a lack of clear instructions from the authorities. 

MOH urged those recovering at home not to call the numbers to its hotline, or the quarantine or Quality Service Manager hotlines, because this would jam the system further. 

“We are setting up the home recovery buddy system and beefing up our resources, and the home recovery buddy will get back to you.”

Patients on the scheme will receive an SMS (short message service) notification with more information on what they should do. 

The home recovery protocol started on Sept 15 for vaccinated Covid-19 patients up to 50 years old who have mild or no symptoms. This meant that they did not need to go to a hospital or community care facility.

From Sept 18, the eligibility for home recovery was extended to fully vaccinated patients aged between 51 and 69.

Up to 40 per cent of daily Covid-19 cases are put on the home recovery programme, MOH said on Thursday in response to queries from the media.

Patients are admitted to hospitals and community care facilities only if they are 80 years old and above, 70 and older and unvaccinated, or if they have underlying illnesses.

“With home recovery now the default mode for care management of cases, and growing in number of cases each day, our ground operations are much strained,” MOH said.

Singapore has been racing to contain a surge in Covid-19 cases fuelled by the highly contagious Delta strain of the coronavirus. 

On Wednesday, it recorded 1,457 new infections, the highest since the pandemic hit early last year.

Here are MOH’s answers to some frequently asked questions about home recovery.

Who is eligible?

To ensure that hospital beds go to those who need them most, home recovery is the default option for fully vaccinated persons who are:

  • Aged 12 to 69 

  • Have mild or no symptoms

  • Have no severe illness or comorbidities — the presence of two or more medical conditions 

Their household members should also not include persons older than 80 or those in vulnerable groups, such as pregnant women as well as those with weakened immune systems or with many other illnesses.

Patients on home recovery must also be able to isolate themselves in a room, preferably with an attached bathroom.

I have been told that my polymerase chain reaction (PCR) swab test is positive for Covid-19. No one, however, has contacted me to start home recovery or to recover at a community care facility. What should I do while waiting?

The surge in cases has caused delays. MOH said that it was “streamlining” its operations and would get to you as soon as possible.

In the meantime, isolate yourself in a room at home, preferably one with an attached toilet, and wear a mask if you have to leave the room. If you are unwell, you can call a telemedicine provider. A list of such providers is at https://go.gov.sg/telemedicineproviders.

You will receive an SMS message with more information on what you should do. This will include the hotline of a Home Recovery buddy — 6874 4939 — if you have questions. 

Ask your household members to register themselves for an electronic quarantine order at https://go.gov.sg/quarantinereg.

You will also be issued an isolation order for 10 days.

I have yet to receive my home care pack containing a thermometer, pulse oximeter, surgical masks and hand sanitiser. Who should I inform?

Care packs are delivered to you only if you do not have an oximeter at home. Call your home recovery buddy.

The key item is the oximeter to monitor the oxygen level in your blood and pulse rate. The coronavirus responsible for Covid-19 can cause blood oxygen to drop to dangerously low levels even when you feel well or have no other symptoms.

The care packs will be delivered to you via contactless delivery, which is no different from when you order food to be delivered to your home.

I am under an electronic quarantine order and my household members are not allowed to leave home. How can I get my food, groceries or medical supplies, including medication for children?

Try to order groceries and food that can be delivered to your home. If that is not an option, you will have to get help from your relatives, family and friends. As for medicine, use the round-the-clock telemedicine service. If you need medication, it will be sent to you.

How can I keep my household members safe if I need to collect meals, have laundry changed or clear trash? 

If you really must leave your room to carry out these tasks, ensure that no one from your household is near the doorway to your room. Put on a surgical mask before opening the door, complete your task and return to your room quickly.

I am running out of Covid-19 antigen rapid test kits for myself and my household members under home quarantine. Who can I contact for more test kits?

There is no need to take antigen rapid tests if you are on home recovery. 

If you have been issued a quarantine order, the test kits are given to you when you go for your swab test at the start of your quarantine at a clinic or test centre.

There is enough nationwide stock of test kits, but it will take a few days for the stock to be distributed to the various shops. Wait for a few days before returning to the shops, or have friends or relatives buy them from the shops and deliver them to you.

Where do I upload my oximeter test results while on home recovery?

Maintain a daily regimen of tracking your temperature, pulse rate and blood oxygen saturation. Submit the readings to the home-recovery vitals diary daily, by 10am, at https://go.gov.sg/homeisolationdailyreport.

I developed some symptoms. What should I do?

If you are unwell or your symptoms (such as fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, headaches, muscle aches or tiredness, or diarrhoea) have worsened, contact your designated telemedicine provider, who will guide you.

When can I be discharged from home recovery?

No discharge memorandum is needed. If you are feeling well, you are discharged on the 10th day of illness. There is no need for further PCR tests because vaccinated persons are extremely unlikely to be infectious by this time.

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Covid-19 coronavirus Covid-19 testing home recovery quarantine MOH

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