ART-positive but physically well employees to 'self-isolate', don't have to take confirmatory PCR tests

Employers should not ask ART-positive but physically well employees to report to the workplace.

Low Jia Ying | September 25, 2021, 05:41 PM

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Employees who test positive using an Antigen Rapid Test (ART) but are physically well, are not required to undergo a confirmatory Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test.

They are advised to self-isolate for 72 hours, and then do another ART test.

These measures were announced in an advisory today (Sep. 25) by the tripartite partners, consisting of the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF).

ART-positive employees to self-isolate at home

Employees who receive a positive result from a self-swab ART, but do not exhibit symptoms such as a fever, cough or runny nose, are advised to self-isolate to monitor their health.

They are advised against rushing to a General Practitioner (GP) clinic or hospital, which may risk exposure to other infections.

The partners added: "This is a risk-calibrated approach that will allow Singapore to focus the use of primary care and other healthcare resources on Covid-19 patients at higher risk of falling severely ill."

The advisory spelt out what employees should do in the event they test positive for Covid-19 using an ART.

Firstly, employees should immediately inform their employers of their positive result and self-isolate at home for 72 hours.

There is no need to undergo a confirmatory PCR test, unless they belong to any of these groups:

  • Persons who are working in healthcare and eldercare settings
  • Persons who work or study in pre-schools or primary schools
  • Persons under a quarantine order, stay-home notice or have received a Health Risk Warning
  • Persons aged above 80 years old (vaccinated) or above 70 years old (unvaccinated)

After 72 hours of self-isolation, employees should repeat the ART.

If the result is negative, the employee may return to work and daily activities.

However, if the result is positive, the employee should continue to self-isolate, and take another ART every 24 hours until the employee receives a negative ART result.

Period of absence should be treated as paid sick leave

The advisory stated that employers should not ask their ART-positive employees to report to the workplace even though they are physically well.

Such employees should be allowed to work from home if they are able to do so.

If working from home is not possible, the advisory states that employers should treat the period of absence as paid sick leave.

This can be counted as outpatient sick leave, or paid hospitalisation leave, and would not require a medical certificate (MC).

Employers should not ask employees to take no-pay leave for this period of self-isolation.

What should you do if a co-worker has a positive ART result?

The advisory stated that employees who are household members of ART-positive but physically well individuals, should monitor their health for 10 days and do regular ART self-tests.

Employees who are workplace close contacts of the ART-positive employee are advised to do the same.

As long as the employee's ART self-test results are negative, there are no movement restrictions on them.

However, they should limit interactions with others as much as possible.

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