Worries of those on Covid-19 home recovery justified, but good care system is in place: President Halimah

SINGAPORE – The worries and anxieties of those recovering from Covid-19 at home are understandable, but there is also a need for people to remember that there is a good system in place to care for them, President Halimah Yacob said on Tuesday (Nov 2).

Speaking to reporters during her visit to the headquarters of the Home Recovery Task Group at HarbourFront Centre, Madam Halimah said she “fully understands” how such people feel.

“Once you have Covid-19, you’re worried not just for yourselves, but also for your family members,” she said.

But she added: “While their worries are justified, so long as they follow the protocols, the advice given, they should be alright… In my view, we have a very good system in place for home recovery.”

The home recovery programme was first piloted on Aug 30 and eventually expanded to become the default care arrangement for most patients here.

It faced several teething issues and numerous complaints from members of the public when it first began, including those who said that they were unable to reach the Ministry of Health (MOH) for advice on their specific situation and were at a loss over what to do next.

The Home Recovery Task Group was set up by the Singapore Armed Forces on Sept 29 to help scale up Singapore’s Covid-19 home recovery programme.

As at the end of October, about 450 soldiers from the SAF were involved in various aspects of the programme.

Aside from the SAF, several other agencies – including the Government Technology Agency, Defence Science and Technology Agency, People’s Association, Agency for Integrated Care and the Public Service Division – were later brought in to bolster the programme and beef up its manpower.

During her visit on Tuesday, Madam Halimah had a closed-door briefing on the group’s operations.

She also spoke with several full-time national servicemen (NSFs) running the group’s call centre to find out more about their daily routines, and with a doctor providing telemedicine services.

Patients on home recovery typically undergo a 10- to 14-day isolation at home.

The NSFs at the call centre serve as home recovery buddies, who are the first line of contact for those placed on the programme.

They call those who test positive to confirm their eligibility for the programme and answer questions they may have.

All patients are also able to request a consultation with a telemedicine provider should they feel unwell, and those who have been identified to require more medical care will receive scheduled check-ins from a telemedicine provider.

After her visit, Madam Halimah praised the SAF for doing a “wonderful job” in helping MOH to scale up the programme.

“The ability to ramp it up so fast is really very good,” she said, adding: “That’s what’s unique about the SAF – they’re very well organised, very well trained, so they can move very fast. They have the competencies and the skills to mobilise resources on very short notice.”

Calling the task group’s role “very crucial” in Singapore’s Covid-19 journey, the President thanked the SAF servicemen for their efforts.

Asked if she had a message for the general population of Singapore, given the high number of daily cases and deaths, Madam Halimah encouraged everyone to comply with safe management measures and test themselves regularly.

“If we take all those measures, we have to have confidence that the Government is doing its best… we ought to be confident that the situation is being taken care of,” she said.

Madam Halimah added that, as with other countries overseas, it would take some time for things to improve, but emphasised that in the meantime, it was important for everyone to get vaccinated and get their booster jabs.

“Individually, and collectively, with the Government’s support, I’m quite confident we will be able to overcome this pandemic.” 

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