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Covid-19: MOH reactivates GPs network to limit community spread; subsidies to be given for patients with respiratory symptoms

SINGAPORE — From Tuesday (Feb 18), some 900 clinics across Singapore will provide special subsidies to Singapore citizens and permanent residents (PRs) diagnosed with respiratory illnesses, as the Government takes a “proactive step” to limit the community spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus. This is after it observed that many confirmed cases here continued to socialise even though they felt unwell.

Healthcare professionals have also been advised to provide medical certificates (MCs) of five days to all patients with respiratory symptoms, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Friday.

Healthcare professionals have also been advised to provide medical certificates (MCs) of five days to all patients with respiratory symptoms, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Friday.

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SINGAPORE — From Tuesday (Feb 18), some 900 clinics across Singapore will provide special subsidies to Singapore citizens and permanent residents (PRs) diagnosed with respiratory illnesses, as the Government takes a “proactive step” to limit the community spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus. This is after it observed that many confirmed cases here continued to socialise even though they felt unwell.

Those in the Pioneer and Merdeka generations will pay a flat rate of S$5 for consultation and treatment of their condition at these clinics. All other citizens and PRs will pay S$10.

Healthcare professionals have also been advised to provide medical certificates (MCs) of five days to all patients with respiratory symptoms, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Friday.

Patients who do not get well after five days will have to go for more medical assessment and tests, the ministry said, adding that such patients should return to the same doctor if their symptoms persist and they need further treatment.

The 900 Public Health Preparedness Clinics (PHPCs) that are providing subsidised treatment, investigations and medications during this outbreak were last activated during the haze and the H1N1 influenza pandemic.

The Government is re-activating these clinics because it had observed that many of the confirmed cases here had continued to mingle in the community or had gone to work when they were already ill.

“This is why MOH had earlier given guidance to doctors to provide MCs of five days for patients with respiratory symptoms so they could stay at home to recover,” the ministry said.

“We urge all individuals and employers to cooperate and follow strictly the five-day MC regime that has been put in place.”

Although most patients with respiratory symptoms are not infected with Covid-19, “we must take extra precautions”, MOH emphasised.

From Feb 18, these clinics will be progressively activated to care for patients with respiratory symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat and runny nose.

Patients suspected to have pneumonia will be referred to the hospitals for more tests and care.

Doctors in Singapore see some 30,000 patients with respiratory symptoms daily, and about 2,000 of them are diagnosed with pneumonia, said Associate Professor Kenneth Mak, MOH’s director of medical services at a media briefing on Friday.

The clinics to be activated have been guided on the appropriate care protocols according to the assessed risk and diagnosis of each patient.

They will be supplied with the necessary personal protection equipment to carry out their tasks, MOH said.

Members of the public may go to flugowhere.gov.sg to see the list of the PHPCs.

Aside from these clinics, subsidies for citizens and PRs will also apply at polyclinics.

Speaking at the briefing, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said that traditional chinese medicine clinics will be provided with masks and have been advised to refer patients with serious respiratory symptoms to PCPHs and hospitals.

He added that the move to re-activate the PHPCs comes as the Government is stepping up investigations.

“We are proactively investigating to look for cases instead of waiting for cases to pop up in hospitals,” he said.

“So now we want to go to the primary care level... to have a better sense of what is happening. If we want to do that, we need to focus on those with respiratory symptoms, and it would be better for us to leverage on PCPHs to do that.”

Mr Gan noted that the move to provide five-day MCs to those with respiratory symptoms will have an impact on employers, but that this is in the best interest of companies too.

“We want to explain to employers that it is far better for patients to stay at home, recover and rest... It is also in the interest of the companies. If they cross-infect other employees in the companies, they may come down with other illnesses and have to go on MC as well,” he said.

“It is far more important to have them at home. We also realise there’s an impact on employers but (we hope to) help them realise that this is in the interest of public health.”

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