With the global COVID-19 situation evolving by the day, Singapore has stepped up on its border restriction measures. One of the recent acts include the issuance of a 14-day stay-home notice (SHN) for those who have just returned from overseas.
We speak to infectious diseases specialist, Dr Nicholas Chew to uncover the difference between SHN, leave-of-absence (LOA) and quarantine, and on precautions you can take if you are staying with someone who has been issued any of the above.
Difference Between Quarantine, LOA and SHN?
According to the Ministry of Health, those who have been issued a SHN requires them to remain in their place of residence at all times during the 14-day period. On the other hand, people on LOA are generally well, but have been told to stay away from their workplace or school due to their recent travel history. Unlike those on SHN, people on LOA are still allowed to leave their place of residence and attend to important personal matters.
Quarantines are used on those who do not have symptoms but have been exposed to people who are, or are suspected of being a carrier of COVID-19. People serving their quarantine notice are not allowed to leave their place of residence at all times. Should they feel unwell or display any respiratory symptoms that might point to COVID-19, they should consult a doctor immediately.
Precautions You Can Take
You can still live in the same house or apartment with the person who has been issued a SHN. However, as far as possible, you should stay in a different room as the person on SHN and at the same time avoid physical contact such as handshakes.
“As a precaution, household members who are very young, very old, or immunocompromised should be extra careful when interacting with them. Other than that, everyone in the household, including the ones on SHN, should adhere to strict personal hygiene practices such as washing hands with soap, keep hands off face and avoid the sharing of food, utensils and personal hygiene items,” Dr Chew added.
Simple measures you can take at home include limiting time spent together at common areas around the apartment and having separated meal times.
If possible, avoid sharing the same washroom. If it is not practical, avoid using the washroom at close intervals and clean surfaces frequently. Maintain good indoor ventilation within the house. Those serving their SHN should also monitor for signs of active infection, such as fever (check twice daily for temperature above 38 degree Celsius), cough and shortness of breath.
If any of the above signs and symptoms develop, you should contact the People’s Association at 63448222 who will assist you in making the necessary arrangements with the nearest GP clinic or Public Preparedness Clinic. For urgent or life-threatening situations, call 995 directly for assistance.