Among the latest COVID-19 related updates in Singapore, the Government has revised the policy on who is to be charged for treatment in case they are infected with the coronavirus disease.

Effective 7 August 2020 (today), regular healthcare financing arrangements for inpatient medical bills will be provided to all outbound travellers under the following categories:

  • Singapore citizens (SCs)
  • Permanent citizens (PRs)
  • Long-term pass holders (LTPHs).

The conditions to fulfil treatment coverage for the above are as follows:

  • They travel abroad under permitted travel arrangement, i.e. they strictly follow the advisories for essential travel
  • Permitted travel arrangements mentioned above includes Green/ Fast Lanes which are currently in place, as well as any permitted travel arrangement that may be implemented in the future.
  • They have onset of symptoms within 14 days of their return to Singapore and require hospital admission for suspected COVID-19 infection

What this means that that SCs/PRs will be eligible for Government subsidies and MediShield Life/ Integrated Shield Plans coverage, and will be required to pay any remaining co-payment. LTPHs may tap on their prevailing financing arrangements (e.g. foreign worker insurance), where applicable.

This is a shift from the the previous policy, effected on 27 March 2020, which stated thatSCs/ PRs/ LTPHs were required to pay for their own inpatient medical bills in full should they have onset of symptoms within 14 days of returning to Singapore. They were also allowed to claim from MediShield Life or Integrated Shield Plans in public and private hospitals for COVID-19 inpatient care.

What hasn't changed, however, is that SCs/ PRs/ LTPHs who are not under permitted travel arrangements and travel in breach of the travel advisories will continue to pay for their COVID-19 inpatient medical bills in full. Similarly, short-term pass holders entering Singapore under permitted travel arrangements will remain responsible for their medical bills.


Piloting gradual resumption of further activities; most events to remain virtual

On 4 August 2020, Singapore launched a pilot for wedding receptions of up to 50 persons. The list of places where wedding receptions can be held is being gradually expanded to include more venues. For now, wedding receptions are allowed only in controlled venues where safe management measures can be better implemented and enforced, such as restaurants, hotels, and public and private function rooms. For example, selected indoor function spaces managed by NParks have been available for wedding receptions since 4 August 2020, while function rooms and multi-purpose halls at community centres/clubs will be available from 31 August 2020.

Per the advisory by Ministry of Health (MOH): "While more activities and events are allowed to resume over time, most events should remain fully virtual or hybrid physical-virtual where possible to protect our loved ones and fellow Singaporeans."

It stated: "These include large gatherings and festivities surrounding national and community occasions such as National Day (e.g. community concerts and observance ceremonies) and Seventh Lunar Month events (e.g. live auctions, getai performances)."

Given that the Seventh Lunar Month starts on 19 August, MOH has clarified that prayers and post-funeral religious rites conducted by religious organisations with a good track record of implementing safe management measures, or by religious workers endorsed by these religious organisations, will be allowed to take place in places of worship and some external venues such as HDB common areas. The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth will release details shortly.


Final stretch of dormitory clearances

With Singapore in the final stretch of dormitory clearances, this will allow the vast majority of workers to resume work by mid to late August 2020 (i.e. have AccessCode green). 

The Inter-agency Taskforce will complete the testing of all workers in the dormitories by 7 August 2020 (today), which means that all the dormitories will be COVID-cleared, with the exception of several standalone blocks which serve as quarantine facilities.

The workers in these quarantine facilities will be tested when their isolation ends, and case counts will remain high. After completing their isolation, most of the workers will be able to resume work once the dormitory operators and employers complete the necessary preparations to do so in a safe manner.

MOH added: " The Multi-Ministry Taskforce will continue to monitor the situation closely as we take steady steps towards a new normal. Social responsibility remains key, and we will need to work and innovate together so that we can achieve a new COVID-19 normal where we can resume most activities and events safely."

Photo / 123RF

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