Thursday, June 25, 2009

Singapore implemented Home Quarantine Orders (HQO) to limit A(H1N1) spread, failing to comply can be prosecuted

Singapore has implemented Home Quarantine Orders (HQO) with the aim of limiting the spread of Influenza A (H1N1-2009) in the community.

HQOs will be issued to those who have had close contact with confirmed cases of Influenza A(H1N1-2009). They will be placed under quarantine for 7 days from the point of their exposure to the virus, either at home or at designated facilities prepared for this purpose.

Close contacts are those who have sustained unprotected exposure to the confirmed case for a significant duration of time and within a close proximity of 2 meters. In an airplane these would include passengers seated in the same row as well as within 3 rows in front and behind the confirmed case.

Why quarantine?

Influenza A(H1N1-2009) is a contagious and potentially dangerous virus which can cause a flu pandemic. HQOs are used to isolate contacts of the virus, so as to limit the spread of the virus in our community.

What will happen when an HQO is served?

Those to be quarantined would be isolated either at their homes or at designated facilities such as Aloha Loyang. There they would be well taken care of and their health monitored.

CISCO officers will serve the HQO and will subsequently install an electronic camera at the homes of those to be quarantined at home. They will be given a home quarantine kit, which includes an oral thermometer and a mask. A nurse will explain the conditions in the HQO which are to be observed.

During the home quarantine period, CISCO officers will make random calls to those quarantined between 8 am and 11 p.m. When called, they will have to turn on and present themselves in front of the electronic camera to show that they are at home.

While under HQO, the person must stay at home or in the facility provided and avoid contact with others. They have to take their temperature twice daily and monitor themselves for flu-like symptoms. Good personal hygiene is especially important. Persons quarantined at home are to wear a surgical mask if they need to be in common areas of the house near other persons.

All persons should respond fully and truthfully to all questions by MOH officers or others acting on behalf of the Director of Medical services. This is to enable the officers to better take care of those quarantined and to limit the spread of the Influenza A(H1N1-2009) virus within Singapore.

Flouting of HQO

Those who flout (deliberately disobey) the HQO may be subject to further conditions.

These may include:

  1. Being required to wear an electronic tag to enable the monitoring of movement during the period of the home quarantine.
  2. Being required to be detained and isolated in a hospital or other place.

Any person who fails to comply with the HQO can be prosecuted and

  • in the case of a first offence, be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or to both; and
  • in the case of a second or subsequent offence, be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $20,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to both.

What should I do if my family member is quarantined at home?

Your family can help the process by following the instructions given to you at the serving of the HQO.

Please avoid contact with your family member who is under HQO and be vigilant against possible indirect ways of contact through common household items. Everyone in the house can go about their daily routines but be sure to pay extra attention to personal hygiene and general household cleanliness. Avoid inviting visitors to your home.

Regularly clean and disinfect the areas used by the family member under HQO and avoid sharing bodily fluids like saliva through the sharing of food and drink. Family members should build up their own immune systems by eating properly and healthily and exercising regularly.

What if the person under HQO, or another household member, starts to display flu symptoms?

Should your family member under HQO start to display flu-like symptoms, he/she should wear a surgical mask and call 993 for the dedicated ambulance service to bring him/her for further assessment.

If the family member under HQO needs medical assistance for other minor illnesses, please call the designated helpline 1800 333 9999.

If another member of the family not on HQO, displays flu-like symptoms please also call 993 and have that family member wear a surgical mask while waiting for the ambulance to bring him/her to TTSH Emergency Department.

It is possible in the initial stages of the disease for the quarantined family member to have contracted the Influenza A(H1N1-2009) virus but not display symptoms such as fever. Hence, it is possible for him to spread the virus on to another household member, even if he still seems well. Hence it is very important that your family follows the instructions given with the HQO kit so that we can all better prevent the virus from spreading in our community.


Source: Ministry of Health

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