COVID care protocols revised from Thursday depending on severity, health status: MOH

·Editorial Team
·3 min read
A man wearing protective mask boards a bus on December 20, 2021 in Singapore. (Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
A man wearing protective mask boards a bus on 20 December 2021 in Singapore. (PHOTO: NurPhoto via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — From Thursday (6 January), the Ministry of Health (MOH) will manage COVID-19 cases based on their severity of symptoms and health status under revised and enhanced protocols.

The revision comes amid a rise in the number of COVID cases of the Omicron variant in Singapore, which MOH said in a statement on Wednesday is “more transmissible” but “less severe”.

“Our primary care doctors will be key, as we allow patients to recover at home and avoid hospitalisation,” MOH said.

Singapore’s COVID-19 situation remains within control. Over the past week, daily case numbers have been around 200 on average while 16 cases are currently in ICU care.

“These figures are significantly lower than when we experienced a peak in infection numbers a few months ago, indicating that the recent wave of Delta infections has subsided,” MOH said.

But Singapore is seeing a growing number of confirmed Omicron cases even as the Delta wave subsides. Over the past week, there were 1,281 confirmed Omicron cases, comprising 1,048 imported cases and 233 local cases, or 18 per cent of local cases in the last week.

“With higher transmissibility of the Omicron variant, we are likely to experience another wave of community infections soon,” MOH said.

Revised healthcare protocols

For low-risk individuals with mild symptoms, primary care doctors can make a diagnosis via an antigen rapid test (ART) and continue to care for them under Protocol 2.

After seeing the primary care doctor who has confirmed that their symptoms are mild and that they are at low risk of developing severe symptoms, the individual will be required to self-isolate at home for at least 72 hours.

Following which, if they feel well, they may exit self-isolation and resume normal activities upon a negative self-administered ART, similar to Protocol 2.

Those who continue to test ART positive should continue to self-isolate and self-test daily until they obtain a negative ART result, or until Day 10 for vaccinated individuals or Day 141 for unvaccinated or partially vaccinated individuals, whichever is earlier.

The individual will receive a five-day medical certificate from the primary care doctor – or longer depending on clinical discretion – to cover the expected period of rest needed for the symptoms to resolve.

If symptoms worsen or do not improve with time, the individual is advised to return to the doctor or call 995 in emergency situations.

Health Risk Warnings (HRW) will be issued to the individual’s close contacts, including those identified through the TraceTogether app and self-declaration of household members. Persons issued with HRW should follow the prevailing Protocol 3.

Individuals who are assessed by their doctors as high risk, such as the elderly and pregnant, or with significant symptoms, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, prolonged fever, will continue to be managed under Protocol 1 where they are required to undergo both ART and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) swabs.

If they test positive, they will be issued an Isolation Order (IO) for 10 or 14 days, depending on their vaccination status.

Low-risk individuals who are well and/or asymptomatic will continue to be managed as per existing Protocol 2 if they test positive on ART.

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