SINGAPORE, Jan 21 (The Straits Times/ANN): The maximum isolation period for fully vaccinated individuals and children below the age of 12 who have tested positive for Covid-19 will be reduced from 10 days to seven days.
This change is because of the shorter infectious period of the Omicron variant.
However, the maximum isolation period for unvaccinated individuals aged 12 years old and above will remain at 14 days for both protocols 1 and 2.
This was announced on Friday (Jan 21) at the virtual multi-ministry task force press conference.
Previously, protocol 1 refers to those who have tested positive for Covid-19 and show symptoms while protocol 2 refers to those who have tested positive but do not show symptoms.
Currently, apart from asymptomatic individuals, mildly symptomatic (low-risk) individuals can now follow protocol 2.
Since Jan 6 this year, Singapore's healthcare protocols have focused on managing Covid-19 cases based on the severity of their symptoms and individual risk factors.
Lower-risk individuals with mild symptoms can now be immediately diagnosed by their primary care doctors via a healthcare provider-administered antigen rapid test (ART) and recover safely under protocol 2.
Higher risk patients, such as the elderly, pregnant women, paediatrics, immunocompromised status individuals, or with significant symptoms (such as chest pain, shortness of breath, prolonged fever) will be managed under protocol 1.
They will also be assessed for placement on the Ministry of Health's (MOH) Home Recovery Programme, or further management or monitoring in a care facility.
On the other hand, low-risk asymptomatic patients, including those who test positive on self-administered ARTs, will continue to be managed under protocol 2.
MOH said that these arrangements have worked well in ensuring that medical resources go to those who need them the most, and enabled patients to return to normal activity as soon as possible once it is safe for them to do so.
"We will therefore expand the application of protocol 2, to more patient groups and settings," MOH said.
MOH also announced that the ministry will expand the age bracket suitable for protocol 2 to include children aged five to 11, regardless of their vaccination status. This will take immediate effect.
"We urge those with non-emergency conditions, including children, to avoid seeking treatment at hospitals and to consult their primary care doctor instead," MOH said.
Those who test ART positive at non-clinical settings but who identify themselves as potentially at risk should still visit a doctor for medical advice even if they feel well, MOH added.
Patients who are on protocol 1, are recovering well and whose symptoms have improved, can also transit smoothly to protocol 2.
This means that they can be discharged earlier and return to normal activities if they test negative on a self administered ART taken 72 hours or more after their first positive Covid-19 test.
This will be progressively put in place in the coming couple of weeks, where protocol 2 can be applied to all low-risk, asymptomatic individuals who are in protocol 1 settings.
These include Covid-19 Treatment Facilities, those who test positive for predeparture tests, pre-event testing, rostered routine testing and mandatory traveller tests and tests taken at the end of stay-home notice periods, so long as their medical conditions allow it. - The Straits Times/ANN