The Ministry of Health (MOH) and Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) will implement additional support measures for all homes serving the elderly to further reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure for staff and residents. These include nursing homes, welfare homes, sheltered homes and adult disability homes (“Homes"). All Homes will continue to implement safe distancing and infection control measures in full compliance with previous advisories.
COVID-19 Tests for Staff and Residents
Testing is a critical enabler of Singapore’s fight against COVID-19, and allows us to heighten protection for vulnerable settings. The Multi-Ministry Taskforce has been steadily building up our national capacity to conduct tests for COVID-19, in tandem with a comprehensive medical strategy to ensure that individuals infected with COVID-19 receive prompt and quality medical treatment.
Homes serve highly vulnerable and frail seniors, who are at higher risk of developing serious health complications if infected with COVID-19. The Taskforce recognises the need to support these Homes to strengthen the safety of their environment. MOH and MSF will therefore prioritise testing for residents and staff in all homes serving the elderly. This will ensure that any COVID-19 infections in the Homes are detected as early as possible for treatment, as well as to limit transmission. This new support measure complements existing measures on safe distancing and movement restrictions within the Homes, which had been put in place earlier.
MOH commenced COVID-19 testing from 29 April 2020 and target to complete the tests by next week, while MSF commenced the tests from 30 April 2020 and will complete them by 2 May. Prior to this, we had been actively testing symptomatic residents and staff who developed Acute Respiratory Infection or fever for COVID-19.
The Ministries are providing full funding support for the costs of all tests, and all follow-up treatment that is required.
Accommodation Support for All Resident-Facing Staff
To ensure a safe environment in the Homes, broad-based testing will be complemented by further measures to reduce the exposure of staff and residents to COVID-19 infection risks in the community. This includes ensuring resident-facing staff who enter and leave the Homes daily have a protected living environment to minimise the chances of them contracting the virus and bringing it into the Homes.
We are working with the Homes to facilitate lodging for staff who interact with residents of Homes at designated accommodation facilities on-site or at hotels, to reduce their exposure to the community during the circuit breaker period. We will arrange for staff of the Homes to stay at hotels if the Home they work at is unable to house them on-site.
For staff who have to move into hotels, we will provide funding for the accommodation and for the Homes to provide meals, dedicated transport and daily necessities for the staff. MOH will also provide support for nursing homes to enhance onsite accommodation spaces to improve safe distancing, where necessary.
A $500 allowance will be provided to affected staff to assist them with the transition for the current measures. We understand that the move could cause inconvenience to the affected staff and appreciate their sacrifices and efforts in keeping our elderly safe.
We acknowledge and appreciate the dedication of all staff and the management of the Homes, who have stepped up amidst the challenges and are working hard to care for their residents. The Government remains committed to support and work closely with the Homes to strengthen safety and protection for everyone. Through our collective efforts, we will be better able to protect those who are more vulnerable in our community.
MINISTRY OF HEALTH
MINISTRY OF SOCIAL AND FAMILY DEVELOPMENT