Singapore to prioritise testing of all aged care residents and staff – with staff to be housed on site or in hotels for four weeks

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The country’s Ministry of Health (MOH) and Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) announced the additional measures on Saturday, saying that they are needed to detect any cases of COVID-19 as soon as possible in its 77 nursing homes.

Six nursing homes in Singapore (including the Lee Ah Mooi Old Age Home, pictured) have had coronavirus outbreaks so far – just under 8% of facilities.

The MOH began testing on 29 April and plans to complete the tests by next week – before this, the country had only been actively testing symptomatic residents and staff who developed Acute Respiratory Infection or fever.

The Government is also working with homes to provide accommodation for all staff on-site or at hotels to reduce their exposure to the community at what the MOH is calling the “circuit breaker period” – ordering people to stay at home to break the chain of community transmissions – which will end on 1 June 2020 – just under a month away.

The MOH will cover the costs of accommodation, plus meals transport and daily necessities for staff, with a $500 (AUD$551) allowance for affected staff to help them in the transition to the new measures – which essentially ask them to spend four weeks separated from their families.

“We understand that the move could cause inconvenience to the affected staff and appreciate their sacrifices and efforts in keeping our elderly safe,” they said in a statement.

Singapore has the most COVID-19 cases in southeast Asia – over 18,000 cases and 18 deaths.