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Household members of people under COVID-19 quarantine now required to self-isolate at home: MOH

Household members of people under COVID-19 quarantine now required to self-isolate at home: MOH

People wearing face masks cross a road amid the COVID-19 outbreak in Singapore on May 14, 2021. (File photo: Reuters/Caroline Chia)

SINGAPORE: All household members of people under quarantine have to self-isolate at home and minimise social interactions with immediate effect, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Monday (May 31).

"As we have observed increased transmission within the same household as the infected individuals, we are taking the added precaution of expanding the ring of public health actions around cases," said MOH. 

"With immediate effect, all household members of persons under quarantine are to self-isolate at home and minimise their social interactions until the person under quarantine receives a negative COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test result at (the person's) entry into quarantine or if the person is no longer under quarantine."

Those under quarantine should seek medical attention if they feel unwell while waiting for their test result, the ministry added.

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"We have found from experience that because the new variant strain is so infectious, that it tends to circulate very quickly among household members," said Minister of Finance Lawrence Wong, who is also co-chair of the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force, at a press conference on Monday. 

"That's why as an additional precaution, we are now asking all household members of close contacts when your household member is put under quarantine, we will notify you immediately to stay home."

READ: Singapore accelerates national COVID-19 vaccination programme, students the next group to be inoculated

MOH's director of medical services Kenneth Mak said that the intent to get household members of quarantined individuals to self-isolate was to "get ahead of the game".

"We understand that when close contacts spend a considerable amount of time with a person who eventually is found to be positive, (there's a) very high chance that these contacts can be positive.

"And in order to be able to get ahead of the game, we ask that ... household members also self-isolate as a precaution until we can clear the contacts and be assured that these contacts are also not themselves infected," he said. 

The authorities could contact household members through SMSes notifying them to self-isolate, and may follow through with quarantine orders for this purpose, said Assoc Prof Mak.

Asking for the public's cooperation, Assoc Prof Mak said: "This is done with the best of intent to make sure that we control infection quickly, decisively, and it's not intended as a means of trying to stifle the freedom of household members to move around. And this is really for the benefit of all others in the community."

According to Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, who also spoke at the press conference, close to 70 per cent of all linked new cases are due to household transmissions.

READ: Ample supply of food and essential items in Singapore: Gan Kim Yong on supply concerns arising from Malaysia lockdown

READ: Singapore ‘nudging’ in right direction with drop in unlinked cases over past two weeks: Ong Ye Kung

Currently, individuals identified as close contacts of a confirmed COVID-19 case are issued quarantine orders. They are isolated at government quarantine facilities or at home for 14 days from the last day of their exposure to an infected individual.

“This isolates potentially infected individuals from the community, which limits the spread of the virus in the community,” said MOH.

Singapore reported 23 additional COVID-19 cases on Monday, with 16 infections in the community. Thirteen of them are linked to previous cases, with 11 already quarantined and two detected through surveillance.

On Sunday, Singapore’s COVID-19 death toll rose to 33 following the death of a 95-year-old woman.

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Source: CNA/cc

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