Home recovery under Protocol 2 will be the default for COVID-positive infants and pregnant women
The risk of severe COVID-19 in these two groups is low, says the Ministry of Health.
SINGAPORE: Pregnant women and infants aged three months to below one year old who test positive for COVID-19 will be able to recover by themselves at home under Protocol 2 from Oct 25.
This is because the risk of severe COVID-19 in these two groups is low, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Saturday (Oct 15).
"In view of the low risk, patients from these two groups can be managed as Protocol 2 by default, for self-recovery at home or under the care of their own primary doctors," said the ministry.
Currently, COVID-19 patients aged between three months and one year old, as well as women who are less than 36 weeks pregnant, follow Protocol 1 where MOH will check on their recovery.
Higher-risk individuals under Protocol 1 are also required to do both an antigen rapid test (ART) and a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.
Patients from these two groups will either be placed on the home recovery programme by default, or if their home environment is not suitable, they will be taken to a care facility.
Most of Singapore's new COVID-19 infections are Protocol 2 cases, which are those who are well or assessed to have a mild condition.
In shifting these two groups to Protocol 2, which allows for self-recovery, MOH said these patients should continue to monitor themselves closely for signs and symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain or a persistent fever of above 38 degree Celsius while recovering at home.
"If signs and symptoms worsen, they should seek medical attention," the ministry said.
Speaking at a press conference held by the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force, MOH’s director of medical services Kenneth Mak said the change in health protocols for these two groups is part of its regular review of the risk of severe infections for more vulnerable people.
“There is a benefit for us because that means it reduces the number of admissions and people needing to stay in hospital,” said Associate Professsor Mak.
“Surely it's more pleasant to keep children in homes with their parents rather than being in the hospital in a very strange environment which they are very frightened of."
EMPLOYERS SHOULD NOT REQUIRE MCs
To relieve the load on general practitioner clinics and polyclinics, MOH reminded employers not to require medical certificates from employees who have either self-tested positive for COVID-19 or have symptoms of acute respiratory infection.
This is to avoid patients with mild or no symptoms making unnecessary visits to GP clinics, which would compromise the standard of care for other patients who require medical attention, the ministry said.
MOH added that those who are well should be allowed to work from home if they are able to do so, and encouraged those with mild flu-like symptoms to consider teleconsultation with their doctors.
There has been a rise in COVID-19 cases in Singapore, driven by the XBB Omicron variant which may be driving an increase in reinfections.
The proportion of reinfections has been increasing over the past month, with reinfections currently making up about 17 per cent of total new cases, MOH said on Saturday.
"Given that immunity from natural infection in the population is likely waning over time, this underscores the importance of ensuring minimum protection from vaccination and keeping our vaccinations up to date to protect us against severe infections," the ministry added.
The current COVID-19 wave will likely peak by around mid-November, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung.