No more quarantine orders in S'pore as Covid-19 testing & isolation procedures to be simplified

Only three protocols now.

Tanya Ong | October 09, 2021, 01:42 PM

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Covid-19 protocols for testing and isolation in Singapore will be simplified.

In a Ministry of Health (MOH) press release on Oct. 9, it was announced that PCR testing will be reserved mainly for individuals who feel unwell and have symptoms.

Antigen rapid tests (ART) will be used for people who are well, such as for community testing and for the management of contacts of Covid-19 cases, so infections can be detected early.

Protocols surrounding testing positive for Covid-19 will also be streamlined into three different processes:

Protocol 1: For those who are unwell and test positive

They should see a doctor. They will either be placed on home recovery by default, or if the home environment is not suitable, they can recover at the appropriate care facilities.

They will be isolated for 10 days if they are fully vaccinated (or are young children aged 12 years or less); or isolated for 14 days if they are unvaccinated.

They will be discharged after their respective isolation periods without the need for further tests at the point of discharge.

Protocol 2: For those who are well and test positive

They should self-isolate at home for the next 72 hours. After 72 hours, they can retest and if negative, they may exit isolation and resume normal activities.

If they become unwell at any time, they should see a doctor.

Protocol 3: Individuals who are issued Health Risk Warnings (HRW)

Previously, contacts of Covid-19 cases were differentiated into various risk levels, with several measures such as Quarantine Orders (QO), Health Risk Alerts (HRA), and Health Risk Warnings (HRW).

There will now be a single approach – a HRW that lasts seven days from the day of its issuance, that is based on ART self-testing.

More details on the HRW:

Upon being notified of the HRW (Day 1), the person should immediately self-isolate, and test himself with an ART on the day of the HRW issuance and upload the Day 1 ART result based on the instruction in the HRW notification.

He can continue with normal activities for the day if the test is negative.

For subsequent days, i.e. Day 2 to 7, the person should test ART negative on the same day before going out.

If the person tests positive on any of these ART tests, he should follow Protocol 2 above.

On Day 7, he must test himself with an ART, and if the test is negative, there is no further need for tests after that.

At a glance:

These revised protocols will start from Oct. 11, 2021, marking a shift in emphasis towards personal responsibility and self-management.

Those already in the system and following previous protocols will need to make some transitional arrangements:

  • If you are a Covid-19 patient, you will serve out the 10-day or 14-day isolation, depending on your vaccination status.
  • If you are currently on a quarantine order, you will no longer need an exit PCR test. If you test yourself with an ART and the result is negative, you may go out for the day. At the end of Day 7, you may exit quarantine. In other words, you can follow Protocol 3.

To support regular self-testing at home, MOH will also be conducting another round of distribution of ART kits from Oct. 22 to Dec. 7 2021, via SingPost.

Each household will receive a package containing 10 ART self-test kits.

Top photo via Mufid Majnun/Unsplash, Ong Ye Kung's Instagram.