New protocol for Omicron cases: Recover at home or community care facilities instead of dedicated facilities from Dec 27

Those who are unwell will be processed based on both their clinical presentation and underlying risk factors, said MOH.
The Straits Times/Ariffin Jamar

SINGAPORE - Omicron cases from Monday (Dec 27) will be allowed to recover under the home recovery programme, or be managed at community care facilities and hospitals, instead of being isolated at dedicated facilities.

Those who are unwell will be processed based on both their clinical presentation — symptoms and physical signs — and underlying risk factors, the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced late on Sunday.

They would follow a time-based discharge of 10 days for vaccinated individuals and children less than 12 years old, or 14 days for unvaccinated individuals.

The move will bring Omicron cases in line with the health protocols applied to people with other current variants of Covid-19.

In its statement, MOH also said individuals who are well but test positive for the Omicron variant will continue to self-test and self-manage, including using antigen rapid tests (ART) to discharge from the third day onwards.

Close contacts of Omicron cases will be issued a seven-day health risk warning, where they will be required to self-test with ART daily before leaving their homes.

This is instead of being quarantined at dedicated facilities for 10 days. Those currently in quarantine will be progressively discharged over the next few days.

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MOH said that in order to tightly ring-fence vulnerable settings such as hospitals, nursing homes, eldercare homes and pre-schools, contact tracing efforts will shift back towards self-reporting by family members and the use of tools such as TraceTogether.

The change in how Omicron cases are handled comes as the MOH eases its approach to managing the virus spread based on an “updated understanding” of the Omicron variant. 

“International evidence indicates that the Omicron variant is likely to be more transmissible but less severe than the Delta variant, and that vaccines, especially boosters, retain substantial protection against hospitalisations caused by Omicron,” said the ministry.

Noting that there were several unlinked Omicron cases as well as clusters in the community in the past week, it added: “This was not unexpected, given the high transmissibility of the variant.”

MOH also said that the adjustments announced on Sunday will help focus resources on severe cases. 

"The adjustments in our approach for managing local Omicron cases will allow us to focus our healthcare resources on severe cases and protecting vulnerable settings," said MOH.

"It also allows us to go back to having a single streamlined approach to manage Covid-19, regardless of Covid-19 viral strains, which will facilitate operations on the ground and compliance with protocols."

This article was first published in The Straits TimesPermission required for reproduction.