The strategy of isolating F0 at home helps Singapore live with Covid-19

With most of the infections being mild thanks to widespread vaccination, Singapore decided to isolate F0 at home to aim to live with Covid-19.

Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) on September 10 announced that the country will promote a strategy of isolating mild nCoV infections at home. Accordingly, young people who have been fully immunized against Covid-19 with no underlying medical conditions will self-treat and recover at home, instead of having to go to a hospital or centralized treatment facility from the 15th. /9.

The decision was made after the pilot program showed positive results. According to Singapore’s Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, the range of F0 being treated at home will be gradually expanded to people aged 50 and under with no serious underlying medical conditions, the group that accounts for half of the total number of Covid-19 cases today. of Singapore.

Singapore health workers take a sample for a migrant worker on May 15.  Photo: AFP.

Singapore health workers take a sample for a migrant worker on May 15. Photo: AFP.

High vaccination rates are the premise for this decision, as large vaccine coverage significantly reduces the number of severe cases and the risk of death, even when the Delta strain rages. MOH’s data last month showed that out of 1,000 breakthrough infections, ie fully vaccinated people still infected with nCoV, only 7 cases required oxygen, no one died or needed intensive treatment.

Most current nCoV cases in Singapore are mild or asymptomatic, with viral loads dropping much faster than unvaccinated infections, the National Center for Infectious Diseases (NCID) said. This is why healthcare facilities can safely discharge patients earlier.

Along with a high level of vaccine coverage, Singapore has also expanded and increased testing, making it a regular habit of workers returning to the workplace. Households are also provided with a rapid antigen test kit and recommended to regularly test themselves.

According to Associate Professor Alex Cook at the National University of Singapore’s Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, the combination of high Covid-19 vaccination rates and aggressive testing means that Singapore will see more and more A mild case of breakthrough infection, the risk of severe disease is extremely low.

However, Cook assessed that to cope with the next wave of infections, Singapore needs a new nationwide approach to help separate treatment of mild or asymptomatic cases from serious cases.

“We must focus the best resources on treating those most affected. Unvaccinated cases will be more severe than those who have been vaccinated. According to recent MOH data, for every 1,000 infections, 45 people need oxygen and 8 people need intensive treatment or die,” Cook said.

The current Singapore health system still meets the needs of pandemic response treatment. Despite the record number of nCoV infections in the community, the number of cases requiring intensive treatment is now much lower than the 1,000 intensive care beds that Singapore has.

However, the number of hospitalizations is increasing. Cook pointed out that if Singapore indiscriminately isolates all nCoV infections in hospitals or specialized medical facilities, by the time the number of new infections per day reaches 2,000 as expected, tens of thousands of treatment beds can be filled with people who are mostly healthy and don’t need them.

“We don’t want to be in a situation where the health system is burdened unnecessarily,” Cook said.

Office workers during their lunch break in Singapore on September 8.  Photo: Reuters.

Office workers during their lunch break in Singapore on September 8. Photo: Reuters.

This expert also pointed out that from a personal perspective, for people who have been vaccinated against Covid-19, with only mild or no symptoms, and family members who have also been vaccinated, it is important to go to the facility. Isolation seems superfluous. “Worse, the process of being isolated from home for more than a week carries the risk of a suspected case not complying with testing regulations,” Cook warned.

Booster injections for the elderly, a measure that can overcome the risk of reduced vaccine effectiveness, are also expected to prevent them from having to be hospitalized. However, there are still uncertainties, such as how much additional protection this shot provides and how long it will last. It is also not clear whether Singapore will expand its coverage of the third dose of the vaccine.

Isolating nCoV infections at a hospital or a centralized facility is the cornerstone of Singapore’s successful anti-epidemic strategy to date, helping to curb the spread of the virus and create time for vaccination. However, with more than 80% of the population vaccinated, Singapore is said to have to change direction, because the old way will put an unnecessary burden on the health system as soon as the number of infections increases.

In addition, although tightening restrictive measures will help reduce the number of infections, the cost is too great both economically and socially, in the context that people are tired of the pandemic and forgiven. desire to return to the normal state.

“To prevent that risk, we must conduct regular testing and rigorously implement a home isolation strategy as we move into the next phase of the pandemic,” Cook concluded.

Luster (Follow CNA)

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