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MOH refutes Bloomberg report, says authorities will not separate children with Covid-19 from their families

SINGAPORE — Children will not be separated from their families if they test positive for Covid-19, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Sunday (Dec 26), refuting a Bloomberg editorial on Dec 23 that gave an account to the contrary.

SINGAPORE — Children will not be separated from their families if they test positive for Covid-19, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Sunday (Dec 26), refuting a Bloomberg editorial on Dec 23 that gave an account to the contrary.

The opinion piece by Bloomberg opinion editor Rachel Rosenthal, titled "Singapore's travelers face Omicron chaos", had described the purported negative experiences of travellers to Singapore who supposedly had to abandon their pets and share quarantine facilities with other people, and were asked to hand their children over to the authorities, among others.

Ms Rosenthal described how the authorities purportedly tried several times to take a child from a European family to be quarantined alone in a hotel or hospital. The child had tested positive and was under 10.

Clarifying, MOH said those aged 12 and below will stay with a caregiver, while those aged 13 to 19 are allowed to isolate alone only with the written consent of their caregivers.

"According to our checks, all children aged 12 years and below who were under quarantine or isolation have been accompanied by a caregiver," said the ministry.

In the Bloomberg article, the child's father who had tested positive was self-isolating at home when health officials, suspecting that he had the contracted the Omicron variant of the virus, whisked him away to a hotel room that he was to share with a stranger from a different flight.

MOH said in response that those who test positive for Covid-19 may be isolated in care facilities with another Covid-19 positive patient so as to optimise the use of overall healthcare capacity.

"These public health measures apply to everyone, be it Singapore citizens, permanent residents or foreigners," added the ministry.

The measures for Omicron, which presently differ from those for the other Covid-19 variants, are similar to those implemented when the Delta variant emerged. They are designed to slow down the new strain, thus allowing time to roll out booster shots and get more people vaccinated, as well as to increase capacity in the intensive care units, MOH said.

"These measures are also temporary, to give us time to learn more about the Omicron variant, and adapt and adjust our responses accordingly," the ministry added.

With greater clarity on the Omicron variant, MOH said it will "in time converge the public health measures between Omicron and other Covid-19 variants", including measures such as home recovery and self-testing instead of quarantine, which are important steps to living with Covid-19. 

"Indeed, over the past weeks, it has become clearer that this is a far more transmissible variant, and there are indications that it has a lower incidence of severe illnesses amongst infected individuals," said MOH, as it called for people's understanding on the need for these measures in the meantime.

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Covid-19 coronavirus Omicron MOH

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