Employees can submit a photo of their test results instead
Employers are being urged by Singapore's Ministry of Health (MOH) to refrain from requesting medical certificates from employees to alleviate the workloads of healthcare workers who are already burdened by a surge of COVID-19 patients there.
"We urge employers not to insist that employees provide medical certificates or recovery memos if they have tested positive for COVID-19," said the MOH in a statement.
According to the ministry, employers should remind their staff who are at low risk and have mild symptoms or those who are physically well to isolate and recover at home instead of going to clinics or hospitals.
"They can submit a photograph of their test results or a video of them taking the ART (Antigen Rapid Test)," the MOH suggested.
The appeal came as Singapore reports a surge of COVID-19 cases, with its latest figures seeing 26,032 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday.
The number of new cases placed healthcare workers across local hospitals and clinics under severe pressure, and the ministry warned it may take a "few weeks before the transmission wave peaks and subsides."
The current stress faced by healthcare workers is even worsened by a growing number of patients with no or mild symptoms requesting for an ART carried out by a medical professional and documented in the ministry's records or requesting for a medical certificate.
"This has added significant workload to our healthcare providers who are already under significant pressure and stress," the ministry said.
In addition, the demand in hospital beds, mostly for patients with underlying chronic illnesses to recover, is also surging.
The MOH said it is "doing whatever it can" to help healthcare providers, including ramping up hospital capacity, spreading patient load to private hospitals, and supplementing healthcare manpower with the SG Healthcare Corps and Singapore Armed Forces Medics.
"We have also further adjusted our health protocols to allow more patients to be able to recover at home," it said.
With hospitals and healthcare workers getting stretched to their peak, the MOH is urging individuals to avoid rushing to a hospital emergency department (ED) unless they are under emergency.
"Patients who walk into EDs with non-emergency conditions, including children, may be diverted to other urgent care clinics or primary care clinics for further assessment, so as to prioritise ED resources for patients who need the medical care," the ministry said.
It also recommended individuals to consult a primary care doctor first if they need medical attention. To accommodate them, the ministry has extended the operating hours of Public Health Preparedness Clinics with effect from February 25 to March 10.
"We seek everyone's continued effort and cooperation to do our part to preserve our medical resources for those who need them most," the ministry said.