SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/Asia News Network): People who have monkeypox can recover at home from Monday (Aug 22).
This is provided they are assessed to be clinically stable by a doctor, and their place of residence is suitable for home recovery, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Friday.
Currently, all confirmed cases assessed by public hospitals to be clinically stable recover with telemedicine support at a monkeypox isolation facility.
MOH said that those assessed to be at higher risk of complications will continue to be managed in hospitals.
All confirmed cases will be issued an isolation order and are required under the Infectious Diseases Act to remain isolated until they are medically assessed to be non-infectious, MOH said.
The ministry added that local and international data shows that monkeypox is typically a mild and self-limiting illness where the majority of patients recover within two to four weeks without requiring hospitalisation.
"As the transmission of monkeypox requires close physical or prolonged contact, including face-to-face and skin-to-skin contact such as sexual contact, the risk to the general public remains low," it said.
MOH said patients recovering at home should have access to a bedroom with an attached bathroom. Other household members should use a second bathroom.
The home should also not have a household member who is pregnant; children below 12 years old; seniors aged 80 and above; individuals who are undergoing dialysis, or who have weakened immune systems or are on immunosuppressants; or individuals at higher risk of being infected, such as those with caregiving needs.
To avoid any animal-to-human transmission, there should be no pets at the patient’s home.
The monkeypox virus can spread through bites and scratches or direct contact with skin, mucosa (mucous membrane), blood and bodily fluids.
Patients may continue to recover in the monkeypox isolation facility if their homes are not suitable for home recovery.
MOH said patients on home recovery will receive regular telemedical consultations to assess their state of recovery.
They may also be taken to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) if additional reviews are necessary.
At the end of the isolation period, patients will have to undergo a review at the NCID to see if they are ready for discharge. MOH did not state the length of the isolation period.
Those medically assessed to have fully recovered will be able to exit isolation, while those who have not will continue to be isolated until their next discharge review.
MOH added: “In line with the shift to home recovery, suspected monkeypox cases who are assessed to be clinically well will no longer be required to isolate in the hospital while awaiting their test results.
“They may instead isolate themselves at home if they are able to do so.”
Those unable to do so will be isolated at a facility while waiting for their test results.
Suspected cases who are assessed to require clinical care will continue to be managed in hospitals, the ministry said.
“MOH will continue to monitor the monkeypox situation closely and calibrate our preparedness and response measures as needed,” it said.
“Members of the public are encouraged to exercise personal responsibility by monitoring their personal health, maintaining good hygiene, and avoiding high-risk sexual activity, such as having multiple sex partners or casual sex, especially during travel.
“They should also avoid close contact with individuals known or suspected to have monkeypox infection.”
As at Aug 13, there are 15 confirmed cases of monkeypox here.