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Covid-19 home recovery: Some patients happy with process, others frustrated at lack of contact from MOH

SINGAPORE — Patients recovering from Covid-19 at home under a recently introduced protocol have had mixed experiences, with some reporting that the process was relatively straightforward and fuss-free, and others expressing frustration over a lack of clear instructions from the Ministry of Health (MOH).

Covid-19 home recovery: Some patients happy with process, others frustrated at lack of contact from MOH

Some people isolating themselves at home said that the process had gone smoothly, while others expressed frustration at the lack of communication from the Ministry of Health.

  • The home recovery protocol kicked off on Sept 15 for vaccinated Covid-19 patients who also meet other criteria
  • Some who qualified for the scheme said they were given prompt instructions on their isolation
  • Others, however, bemoaned the lack of clear instructions, leading some to not take the protocols seriously
  • Another recovered Covid-19 patient said that he still does not know if he was under the home recovery scheme or not

 

SINGAPORE — Patients recovering from Covid-19 at home under a recently introduced protocol have had mixed experiences, with some reporting that the process was relatively straightforward and fuss-free, and others expressing frustration over a lack of clear instructions from the Ministry of Health (MOH).

Those who made it through the 10-day home isolation period with ease said that they were informed that they had qualified for the scheme promptly and were given clear instructions on what they needed to do while recovering at home.

They also received calls from a designated “home recovery buddy” who checked in on their conditions to make sure they were well.

Their family members were also quickly informed of their quarantine orders and arrangements were made for them to get tested for the coronavirus via polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.

The two people who told TODAY about their easy home recovery experience had tested positive for Covid-19 on Sept 14 and 15.

One of them, a 40-year-old executive assistant who did not want to be identified, is due to conclude her home recovery at noon on Thursday (Sept 23).

The other, Mr Damien Ong, 42, is waiting for word from the authorities to arrange to get a swab test done so he can end his home recovery.

Still, the retail manager said he was keeping calm as he understood that the healthcare system has become overwhelmed by the sharp rise in Covid-19 cases of late.

“I think I am one of the lucky few (to get the full treatment),” he said.

The home recovery protocol kicked off on Sept 15 for vaccinated Covid-19 patients up to 50 years of age with no or mild symptoms. This meant 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 Covid-19 patients aged between 51 and 69.

Other criteria for home recovery include having a room to self-isolate in, preferably one with an attached bathroom.

Patients must also have no household members above 80 years old or who belong to “vulnerable groups”, such as pregnant women or those who have a weakened immune response.

NO CLEAR INSTRUCTIONS

The other four Covid-19 patients in home recovery, or their relatives, whom TODAY interviewed reported a very different experience.

For them, getting information from MOH on what they should do while in home recovery has been difficult, if not impossible.

A 27-year-old human resource administrative assistant, who declined to be named, said that aside from being informed by short message service (SMS) that her father will recover from home after he tested positive for Covid-19 on Monday, her father has not received any further instructions.

He has not been given a care package, nor received calls from a “health buddy”. He has not been assessed by a doctor via telemedicine yet, she said.

Showing TODAY a screenshot of her call logs, she said she has tried to get through to MOH “numerous times” to no avail.

The rest of the family is also unsure if they need to serve a quarantine order, and have only been told to wait 48 hours for further instructions.

“We’re pretty anxious actually, (because) we don’t know what to do,” she said.

Another person who is caught in a similar predicament told TODAY that the lack of clear instructions from MOH has meant that her 68-year-old father has not taken the isolation order seriously.

The woman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity as she did not want to get her father into trouble, said he has not isolated himself since he tested positive on Saturday and continues to go out of the house to water the plants, and uses the shared cutlery in their kitchen.

Though he has a bedroom with a shared bathroom, which would qualify him for the home recovery scheme, his wife, who is in her 60s, continues to sleep in the same room with him.

The woman has tried to reach out to MOH and her Member of Parliament to ask for her father to be sent to a government quarantine facility, but she has not heard back from anyone.

No one has called to check in on her father and ensure that he is adhering to his isolation order correctly as well, she said.

“He’s like a lost child who just does what he wants,” she added.

“The home recovery scheme does not work for elderly who don't listen. There should be other options for us or at least (the authorities) should find out if he is suitable to be on home recovery.”

‘DON’T KNOW IF WE ARE ON HOME RECOVERY OR NOT’

Then there are those who were never officially told they were to recover from home, but were not conveyed to hospitals or community care facilities either.

As a result, one 39-year-old, who did not want to be named as he is a civil servant and is not authorised to speak to the media, told TODAY that he believes his mother had also caught the virus from him while he was waiting for instructions.

His entire family had tested positive for Covid-19, starting with his seven-year-old son on Sept 10, followed by him and his 10-year-old daughter on Sept 12.

While his wife accompanied his two children to KK Women's and Children's Hospital to recover, he isolated himself at home. He then said he received a call on Sept 13 from MOH telling him that they would be taking him to a quarantine facility. This came as a relief, as he was sharing his home with his parents.

His mother, who is 62, has existing health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, as well as “heart problems”, he said, and he was afraid that she would get infected.

However, he waited for days and the quarantine transport never arrived.

“It was an emotional roller coaster. I was desperate to get out of the house because the longer I stay, the chances of mum being infected will always be there,” he said.

On Sept 17, his fear came true — his mother tested positive for Covid-19.

“Even though there is the incubation period (for the virus), there could be the possibility that if they had shifted me out much earlier, it could be prevented,” he said.

His mother has since been taken to a quarantine facility, with a “consistently high fever”. “It is very worrying, but I can’t do much as her condition is not serious enough to warrant her to go to the hospital,” he said.

While his mother is still recovering, his wife and children are back home, having officially recovered from the disease.

He said that he has not received any instructions on whether he should be recovering at home or be heading to a quarantine facility, as there were no home recovery care packages or confirmation texts sent to him, and neither did any vehicle arrive to take him out of his home.

He has not been officially swabbed with a PCR test or instructed to do so, so he could only rely on his antigen rapid test results, which returned negative on Tuesday, the 10th day since his Covid-positive result.

“I know (the authorities) are overwhelmed and stretched, but they should make it clear,” he said.

“For those stranded at home, we don’t know if we are on home recovery or not, because nothing is being said.”

Addressing the frustrations expressed by some over the lack of information from the authorities, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a Facebook post on Wednesday that MOH is doing its best to scale up operations.

“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,” he said.

“The (Case Management Task Group at MOH) have a very demanding task. 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.”

TODAY has reached out to MOH for comment.

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MOH Covid-19 coronavirus children seniors home recovery

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