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Best efforts made to facilitate COVID-19 home recovery requests

The Straits Times’ article “99-year-old had COVID-19 but family kept him at home until his death according to his wishes” (Nov 1) recounted the challenges encountered by Mr Teo’s family in getting an undertaker to convey his body to the mortuary.

The article has generated some concerns among seniors, who wish to recover at home should they be infected with COVID-19. This is because they are familiar with their home environment, and there are loved ones who know their needs better.

We would like to assure all seniors that while our healthcare protocol is to convey COVID-19 patients above 80 years old for care in hospitals, the practice is not rigid. Where patients prefer to be cared for at home, we have put in place home-based care programmes to support their recovery.

In the unfortunate event that a patient dies at home, our medical practitioners can issue the Certificate of Cause of Death for deceased persons with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, whether in hospital or the community, just as they would be able to for other infectious diseases.

In Mr Teo’s case, our processes allowed him to be conveyed to the mortuary but the undertakers were reluctant to do so.

Although many of our undertakers have undergone infection control training by the National Centre for Infectious Diseases, some may still be concerned about managing those who die of COVID-19.

We are working closely with the National Environment Agency to engage the industry to address these concerns.

Titus Lee

Director, Aged Care Services

Ministry of Health

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