More SAF personnel roped in to help with Covid home recovery scheme
Up until a month ago, Corporal (Cpl) Luth Danish Zani's role in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) involved supporting other units in their operations as a combat engineer.
But since Sept 29, the 23-year-old has been helping with the national Covid-19 effort as a home recovery buddy - the first line of contact for patients who test positive - under the Ministry of Health's (MOH) Covid-19 home recovery programme.
More resources have been poured into the programme, including deploying more SAF soldiers as recovery buddies, improving the telemedicine system and roping in other government agencies, said Mr Dinesh Vasu Dash, group director of MOH's Crisis Strategy and Operations Group, yesterday.
The programme had faced teething issues and numerous complaints in the first few weeks after it was launched.
Many people had reported that they were unable to reach MOH for advice on their specific situation and were unsure of what to do next.
Mr Dinesh said that with the help of various parties, the team is now able to handle 95 per cent of all incoming and outgoing calls about the programme.
In addition, more than 90 per cent of those who are eligible for home recovery are now brought on to the programme within 24 hours of them submitting their details online.
The home recovery programme has become the default mode of care for Covid-19 patients with no or mild symptoms. On average, about 70 per cent of those infected daily are now recovering at home.
Mr Dinesh added that due to a new telemedicine system, almost 85 per cent of those who request telemedicine support receive it within the first 24 hours.
This is an improvement from early this month, when the figure was around 50 per cent.
Colonel Tong Yi Chuen, commander of the Home Recovery Task Group, said that currently, about 90 SAF regulars, 350 full-time national servicemen and 10 volunteers from the SAF Volunteer Corps are helping the programme in various roles.
This is an increase from the more than 200 personnel deployed on Sept 29.
The Defence Science and Technology Agency also helped provide technical expertise to quickly set up the expanded call centre for the Home Recovery Buddy Hotline.
As a home recovery buddy, Cpl Luth said that he tries to empathise with patients and see how he can help them.
"Some of them don't know what is going to happen or wonder why no one is telling them where to go," he said.
Other government agencies, such as the Agency for Integrated Care, Government Technology Agency, People's Association and the Public Service Division, have also contributed in various ways, said Mr Dinesh, thanking them.
He added that MOH is currently developing a pilot programme that will see mobile teams going to the houses of elderly patients - who are more vulnerable - and providing them with medical help.