Higher-risk patients at A&E must undergo mandatory ART
From tomorrow, higher-risk patients at hospital accident and emergency departments will have to undergo mandatory antigen rapid testing (ART) regardless of their vaccination status.
Hospitals will also not receive visitors to their wards for four weeks, until Oct 23, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said yesterday.
The tightened measures at all public, community and private hospitals will help to safeguard hospital capacity, it added, as more Covid-19 cases have been detected among hospital staff, patients and visitors.
"The detection of these cases led to ward closures and staff quarantine which impacted some hospitals, putting a strain on hospital bed capacity and staffing at a time when more hospital beds are ramped up to care for hospitalised Covid-19 patients," MOH said.
The measures will also help emergency departments, which are usually crowded.
Higher-risk patients to be tested include those being held for prolonged observation or extended testing and treatment, or who have to remove their masks for longer than 15 minutes.
Anyone accompanying a patient throughout an observation period lasting beyond 30 minutes will also have to undergo a rapid test.
"We urge those who have non-emergency conditions or mild symptoms to avoid seeking treatment at the hospitals and consult a general practitioner or urgent care centres instead," MOH said
Meanwhile, some groups of patients will be allowed visitors that hospitals will assess case by case.
They include patients in critical condition, children, women giving birth or post-partum, and patients requiring additional care support from caregivers. Some of these patients could have mental incapacities and would include family members undergoing caregiver training.
Patients allowed visitors can have only one pre-designated visitor for one visit a 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 time.
All approved visitors, however, will have to produce a valid negative ART or polymerase chain reaction test result obtained within the last 24 hours of each visit.