Mask-wearing no longer compulsory in S’pore clinics from 1 Mar: MOH

MOH to step down mask-wearing requirements in outpatient settings like clinics

When Singapore entered DORSCON (Disease Outbreak Response System Condition) Green in February 2023, mask-wearing on public transport no longer became mandatory. However, the requirement remained in hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes.

Source: thecorgi on Canva

On Thursday (29 Feb), the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced that it will be removing mask-wearing requirements in lower-risk health settings.

These include places like polyclinics, General Practitioner (GP) clinics, and dental clinics.

No more mask-wearing requirements in lower-risk settings like clinics

In a press release, MOH noted that it’s been more than a year since the DORSCON level went down to Green on 13 Feb 2023.

Since then, residents of Singapore have lived with Covid-19 as an endemic disease.

They even went through two major infection waves without needing to bring back mandatory mask-wearing and other restrictions.

S’pore Seeing Peak Of Covid-19 Wave, Mandatory Mask-Wearing Not Needed: Ong Ye Kung

Thus, MOH has considered “the stronger collective resilience of [the] population” and will progressively relax the remaining Covid-19 response protocols from 1 Mar 2024.

This will include removing mandatory mask-wearing requirements for patients, staff, and visitors in lower-risk outpatient settings, including:

  • Polyclinics
  • GP clinics
  • Specialist outpatient clinics
  • Dialysis centres
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) clinics
  • Dental clinics

Source: Minmed

MOH still strongly encourages seniors, medically vulnerable people, and those with acute respiratory infections to continue masking up in these places.

Mask-wearing will remain a requirement in higher-risk healthcare settings, such as inpatient wards, emergency departments, and residential care facilities.

“We intend for this to be a standing requirement, to improve general infection control practices in these areas,” MOH explained.

The ministry added that inpatients of hospitals and residents of residential care facilities are not required to wear a mask.

“Nevertheless, as good practice, we encourage residents and inpatients to wear a mask if they are unwell or develop ARI symptoms.”

Update on Covid-19 vaccine recommendations

MOH also provided an update on Singapore’s Covid-19 vaccine recommendations.

Since most individuals would have been infected with Covid-19 at least once and would have some underlying protection even if unvaccinated, the Expert Committee on Covid-19 Vaccination (EC19V) has recommended that two initial doses of the vaccine would be enough to ensure an essential level of protection.

This is down from the current recommendation of three initial doses.

“Individuals should also go for any additional doses being offered or recommended to them based on prevailing recommendations,” MOH added.

Source: sasirin pamai on Canva

The ministry has accepted the new recommendations and encourages the public to take note of these guidelines:

  • Unvaccinated persons should receive two initial vaccine doses at an interval of eight weeks apart
  • An additional dose of an updated vaccine for 2024 continues to be recommended and should be administered about a year — and no earlier than five months — after the last dose received

The additional dose is recommended for everyone aged 60 years and above, medically vulnerable individuals, and residents of aged care facilities.

The next-of-kin of residents of aged care facilities, such as nursing homes, should provide consent promptly should they intend to enable the residents to receive an additional dose of the updated vaccine.

All individuals aged six months and above, especially healthcare workers, household members and caregivers of medically vulnerable individuals, are also encouraged to take the additional dose.

4 vaccination centres to close on 1 Apr

Due to the stable demand for vaccinations, MOH said that it will cease operations at four Joint Testing & Vaccination Centres (JTVCs) from 1 Apr:

  • Ang Mo Kio
  • Jurong West
  • Pasir Ris
  • Yishun

If you plan to get vaccinated at these locations, remember to do so by 30 Mar.

The JTVCs at Bukit Merah, Jurong East, Kaki Bukit, Sengkang, and Woodlands will remain open.

More than 200 participating Public Health Preparedness Clinics (PHPCs) and polyclinics islandwide will also continue to offer the Covid-19 vaccine.

MOH said that it is working to bring in more GP clinics and polyclinics to offer vaccinations to ensure that they remain accessible to the community.

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