SINGAPORE: The stay-home notice period for new travellers from higher-risk countries or regions will be shortened from 21 days to 14 days from Jun 24, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Wednesday (Jun 23).
This is "based on updated evidence gathered over the past month", MOH added.
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.
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.
All countries and 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," 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 Jun 22, said the ministry.
"All of them had incubation periods well within the 14-day window," MOH said.
"As such, we will reduce the SHN period from 21 days back to 14 days."
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TRAVELLERS TO SELF-TEST
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, MOH 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 11.59pm on Jun 27.
They will also have to take PCR tests on arrival in Singapore, and on day 14, before they end their stay-home notice.
TRAVELLERS ARRIVING FROM TAIWAN AND ISRAEL
Travellers arriving from Taiwan and Israel will be able to apply to serve their 14-day stay-home notice at their place of residence and not at a dedicated facility.
They must apply before arrival and must have spent the last 21 days prior to travel in Taiwan or Israel to be eligible.
Travellers must also be occupying their place of residence alone or with household members with the same travel history who are also serving the same stay-home notice duration, MOH said.
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"Refund details are being worked out for travellers who are affected by these changes, and will be shared with them separately," the Health Ministry added.
They will also have to undergo testing using the same regular self-administered ART kits and PCR tests.
NO CHANGE FOR MIGRANT WORKERS, SEA CREW MEMBERS
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 at a dedicated facility after their initial 14-day stay-home notice, MOH 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.
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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 in view of the essential marine services that the harbour craft provide to support our supply chain," said MOH.