Singapore has shortened the stay-home notice period for new travellers arriving in the city-state from higher-risk countries, including India, or regions from 21 to 14 days from Thursday, the health ministry said on Wednesday. This is “based on updated evidence gathered over the past month”, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said.
These travellers will be required to test themselves regularly with self-administered antigen rapid test (ART) kits in addition to the existing polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, the Channel News Asia reported. Until recently, “little was known about the emerging variant of concern, including its incubation period”, said the ministry. As a precaution, MOH had required travellers with recent travel history to higher-risk places to serve a 21-day stay-home notice (SHN).
All countries, including India, and other regions are considered higher-risk except Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Hong Kong, Macau, mainland China and New Zealand. “We have since reviewed the international evidence and local case data,” the MOH said, adding that it had “found no evidence – from both overseas and local data – that these variants come with longer incubation periods”.
Since the 21-day stay-home notice period for those with recent travel history to higher-risk places was implemented on May 8, Singapore has had 270 imported cases among this group as of June 22, said the ministry. “All of them had incubation periods well within the 14-day window,” the MOH said.
“As such, we will reduce the SHN period from 21 days back to 14 days.” New travellers will be required to test themselves regularly with ART self-test kits on days three, seven and 11 of their arrival in Singapore, while serving their stay-home notice, the ministry said. This is “to identify potential infection cases early and provide infected travellers with appropriate medical care as soon as possible”, given the higher transmissibility of new variants of concern, the ministry added.
The new testing requirement will be implemented for new travellers who arrive from 11.59 pm on June 27. They will also have to take PCR tests on arrival in Singapore, and on day 14, before they end their stay-home notice. There is no change for migrant workers from higher-risk countries or regions who stay in dormitories or work in the Construction, Marine and Process (CMP) sector.
They will continue to spend an additional seven days at the Migrant Worker Onboarding Centre or a dedicated facility after their initial 14-day stay-home notice, the ministry said. The additional stay, which has been implemented since early this year, will include an extra testing regime, medical examination and if required, a settling-in programme.
“This precautionary measure will further minimise any small risk of imported COVID-19 positive cases transmitting the virus into the dormitories or at the worksites which can result in large clusters, and will be regularly reviewed as the COVID-19 situation evolves,” MOH said. New crew members from higher-risk places who are entering Singapore on a long-term permit to work onboard harbour craft operating in the port of Singapore will have similar requirements.
After their 14-day stay-home notice, they will undergo “an additional seven-day stay and testing regime at a dedicated facility” before they are allowed to commence work onboard a craft. “This will serve as a precaution given the essential marine services that the harbour craft provide to support our supply chain,” said MOH.
Meanwhile, Singapore reported 22 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, taking the total cases to 62,470.