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Friday, March 31, 2023
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TREATMENT FOR COVID WILL NO LONGER BE SUBSIDISED FROM 1 APRIL ONWARDS

The Ministry of Health announced a number of updates to the Covid situation in Singapore, including the lifting of mask requirements on public transport as Singapore adjusts it’s DORSCON status to Green.

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With effect from 1 April, all patients receiving treatment for Covid will no longer receive a 100% subsidy, but vaccinations will continue to be free.

Snippets of MOH’s press release

Regularising COVID-19 Financing Schemes

As we treat COVID-19 as an endemic disease, we will further scale back pandemic subsidies and re-align the provision of financing support for COVID-19 testing and treatment to that of other acute illnesses. The following changes will thus be implemented with effect from 1 April 2023[1]:

a)    Hospitals and COVID-19 Treatment Facilities (CTFs). All patients, including Singapore Citizens, Permanent Residents and Long-Term Pass Holders (SCs/PRs/LTPHs) regardless of vaccination status, who visit a hospital or CTF for COVID-19 treatment will no longer be accorded 100% subsidy. Instead, our regular healthcare safety nets, namely, Government subsidies, MediShield Life and MediSave will apply to SCs and PRs and defray their healthcare expenses. We wish to assure lower income Singaporeans that financial assistance will be available to ensure that healthcare cost remains affordable.

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b)    Community Isolation Facilities (CIFs). CIFs will no longer be required for COVID-19, just as they are not required for other endemic diseases like influenza or chicken pox.  Nevertheless, we will maintain some CIFs for COVID-19 patients who want to self-isolate for valid reasons. However, all occupants, including SCs/PRs/LTPHs, will be charged for their stay. As CIFs are not medical facilities, SCs and PRs will not be able to tap on Government subsidies, MediShield Life or MediSave to pay for their bills.

c)    Primary care settings (Polyclinics and GP clinics). All patients will be required to pay for any COVID-19 testing, subject to prevailing subsidies.

COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics. COVID-19 vaccinations and COVID-19 oral antivirals will remain fully subsidised for clinically eligible patients in outpatient (including primary care), ambulatory settings of public hospitals and nursing homes, until further notice. This is because these are important preventive steps and treatments to avoid severe disease and hospitalisations, and will remain an important part of living with COVID-19.  Additionally, patients with a higher risk of severe COVID-19, such as the immunocompromised and individuals with some comorbidities, may be referred by their doctors for free telemedicine support.

Vaccination as our Primary Defence in Living With COVID-19

Vaccination remains our first line of defence against COVID-19. Our high vaccination rates have been pivotal to enable us to weather successive waves of COVID-19 infections, build up our societal resilience, protect our healthcare system, and arrive at the endemic COVID-19 norm today. Given our high level of resilience and with the transition to an endemic COVID-19 new normal, the Expert Committee on COVID-19 Vaccination (EC19V) has reviewed our vaccination guidelines, and MOH agrees with the updated recommendations, as follows:

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a.    Everyone aged 5 years and above should achieve at least Minimum Protection – that is, three doses of mRNA or Novavax vaccine, or four doses of Sinovac vaccine.

b.    Persons at higher risk of severe disease from COVID-19, that is, persons aged 60 years and above, medically vulnerable persons, and residents of aged care facilities, are recommended to take the booster around one year after the last booster dose. We urge them to receive their booster dose this year when they become eligible for it.

c.     Persons aged 12 to 59 years who are healthy have a lower risk of severe disease. Nevertheless, a booster around one year after their last booster dose will be offered to enhance their protection.

d.    Persons aged 5 to 11 years continue to be recommended to achieve Minimum Protection. They are neither recommended nor eligible for additional doses at this time.

e.    Children aged 6 months to 4 years continue to be recommended to complete two doses of Moderna/SpikeVax or three doses of Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty. They are not recommended nor eligible for additional doses at this time.

As mentioned earlier, COVID-19 vaccinations under the National Vaccination Programme will continue to be offered free to all Singapore Citizens, Permanent Residents, Long Term Pass Holders and certain Short Term Pass Holders. All persons eligible for COVID-19 vaccination may book an appointment at the Joint Testing and Vaccination Centres, participating Public Health Preparedness Clinics, polyclinics and Vaccination Centres.

As part of ongoing efforts to ensure vaccination remains convenient for our seniors, we will continue deploying mobile vaccination teams (MVTs) to heartland locations. Between 15 February and 2 April 2023, MVTs will be deployed to multiple heartland locations for three days each. The full list of MVT sites and schedules will be continually updated at https://gowhere.gov.sg/.

MOH, with the advice of EC19V, will update our vaccination recommendations in future and when needed.

Vaccination Requirements for Permanent Residence, Long Term Passes and Work Passes Remain in Place

The COVID-19 vaccination requirements for new Permanent Residence, Long-Term Pass and Work Pass applications, as well as the renewal of selected Work Permit Holders and S Pass Holders in the construction, marine shipyard and process sectors or residing in dormitories, will remain in place to maintain the high level of vaccination coverage nationally. From 1 April 2023, persons who recently recovered from COVID-19 will no longer be given temporary exemption from COVID-19 vaccination requirements. Applicants are advised to check the ICA and MOM websites for the latest requirements before applying.

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