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Extension of the Suspension of In-person Visits to Hospitals and Residential Care Homes

     The Ministry of Health (MOH) will continue to suspend in-person visits at all hospital1 wards and residential care homes until 21 November 2021 (inclusive). This will protect healthcare capacity and vulnerable seniors during this period when COVID-19 cases in the community are rising.


2.             MOH had earlier announced the suspension of in-person visits to hospitals till 23 October 2021 (inclusive), as well as to residential care homes until 24 October 2021 (inclusive). In the past two weeks, the rise in COVID-19 cases in the community has increased COVID-19 admissions to the hospitals. There were also several new COVID-19 clusters amongst patients and residents in the hospitals and residential care homes. To protect healthcare capacity during this period, as well as care homes residents who are more vulnerable, in-person visits to hospitals and residential care homes will continue to be suspended.


3.     Concurrently, booster vaccination has been ramped up for healthcare workers and seniors, including those residing in residential care homes, to mitigate the risk of large outbreaks in the hospitals and residential care homes. 


In-person Visits at Hospitals


4.             During the suspension of in-person visits to all hospital wards, the following patient groups will continue to be allowed visitors on a case-by case basis, as assessed by the hospitals:


a.             Patients who are in critical condition;

b.             Paediatric patients;

c.              Birthing/post-partum mothers; and
d.              Patients requiring additional care support from caregivers. Examples of caregivers include those providing assistance to inpatients who have mental incapacities or family members who are undergoing caregiver training to better care for their loved ones after hospital discharge.


5.             The above patient groups would be allowed only one pre-designated visitor, with one visit per day. Patients who are in critical condition may be allowed up to five pre-designated visitors, with a maximum of two visitors at the patient’s bedside at any one time.


6.             All visitors to hospital wards during this period will need to produce a valid negative antigen rapid test (ART) result obtained within the last 24 hours of each visit, as administered or supervised by MOH-approved COVID-19 test providers (including tests performed at Quick Test Centres). This is a mandatory requirement for all visitors regardless of vaccination status, except for persons who have recovered from COVID-19 and are able to present a valid Pre-Event Test (PET) exemption notice2.


7.             All visitors approved to enter hospital wards must don face masks with good filtration capability at all times. These include surgical masks and reusable masks that are made of two layers of fabrics. Visitors are reminded not to eat or drink in the hospital wards, or use the patients’ toilets in the wards. They should also avoid sitting on patients’ beds.


In-person visits at Residential Care Homes


8.             During the period where in-person visits are suspended, residential care homes have the discretion to allow visits for exceptional cases, for example if the resident is critically ill. These visitors would be subject to visitor management measures as advised by the residential care homes.


9.             Residential care homes would also be focusing on rolling out booster vaccinations for their residents during this period. As residents of care homes tend to be more susceptible to severe illness if infected, we strongly encourage all next-of-kin of residents to support their loved ones in getting vaccinated and/or receiving their booster dose once eligible. This would ensure that they have a high level of immunity and are protected from severe disease.


Safeguarding the Well-being of Our Patients/Residents


10.          To ensure that patients/residents remain connected with their loved ones, the hospitals and residential care homes will continue to support alternative methods of communication such as through telephone or video calls.


11.          MOH will review and calibrate these measures regularly in line with the evolving situation. We seek the understanding and cooperation of patients/residents, and their family members and loved ones as we work to safeguard them and the staff to reduce the risk of COVID-19 importation and transmission in our healthcare institutions and residential care facilities.

21 October 2021

[1] Includes public acute hospitals, community hospitals and private hospitals

[2] Recovered individuals (within last 270 days) can obtain a PET Exemption Notice from any clinic offering ART or Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing services.

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