[Editor's note: The Ministry of Health sent an updated version of its press release about six hours after this article was first published. We have amended the article to reflect the changes.]
Singapore will be enhancing its testing protocols for travellers arriving in Singapore from Dec. 3 onwards, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a press release issued on Tuesday, Nov. 30.
This is to step up detection and containment of the Covid-19 Omicron variant until more information is available.
Travellers to test for Covid-19 pre-departure and on-arrival
All travellers entering or transiting or transferring through Singapore, from Dec. 3 (Singapore time), including travellers from Category I countries and regions, must undergo a Pre-Departure Test (PDT) within two days of their departure for Singapore and obtain a negative result.
All travellers entering Singapore, including travellers from Category II (non-Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL)), III and IV countries, must undergo a Covid-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test on-arrival.
To expedite on-arrival testing, travellers should register and make payment for their on-arrival PCR tests prior to departing for Singapore at: (a) https://safetravel.changiairport.com/arrivalswabtest/#/ if arriving by air; or
(b) at https://t.2c2p.com/express/parkwayshentonoat if arriving by sea and land.
The requirement for an on-arrival PCR test does not apply to VTL travellers arriving through land links with Malaysia.
These enhanced measures will apply for four weeks, and will be reviewed and extended if necessary, MOH said.
In addition, full contact tracing for will be conducted for these cases to identify their close contacts, place them on a 10-day quarantine at designated facilities instead of allowing self-isolation at home, and conduct PCR testing at the start and at the end of their quarantine.
Measures before Nov. 30 announcement
Currently, travellers from the Category I countries and regions only need to take a PCR test on arrival.
As for those from Category II, III and IV, they only have to take a PCR test as they end their stay-home notice period.
Do note that South Africa has been removed from the list of Category II countries.
ART for VTL air travellers
Furthermore, travellers on Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL-Air) who arrived after the cut-off date and time (23:59am on Dec. 2), will also have to undergo additional supervised self-administered Antigen Rapid Tests (ART) at a Quick Test Centre on Days 3 and 7 of their arrival.
Currently, VTL travellers only need to take PCR test on arrival, and self-isolate until they get a negative result.
These measures will enable Singapore to minimise importation and allow prompt detection and isolation of Omicron cases, MOH added.
One-off surveillance testing for travellers who arrived from affected places
In addition, the government will be conducting a one-time surveillance PCR testing exercise for travellers who arrived between Nov. 12 and Nov. 27, and had travelled to the countries or regions affected by Omicron in the 14 days before their arrival in Singapore.
These travellers have been notified of their scheduled test time and venue.
Additional precautionary measures for frontline workers & aircrew
MOH added that as the borders are Singapore's first line of defence against importation of the Omicron variant, as a precautionary measure, from Dec. 2, they will revert to a weekly PCR Rostered Routine Testing (RRT) for airport and other border frontline workers who may come into contact with travellers from countries and regions affected by the Omicron variant.
A PCR-based test will facilitate the detection of the Omicron variant.
As for aircrew serving flights from these countries, they will be subjected to an on-arrival PCR test, and post-arrival PCR tests on Days 3 and 7 following each flight duty.
Other airport and border frontline workers will continue with ART-based RRT. As an added precaution, such individuals presenting a positive ART will have to go for a confirmatory PCR test.
Singapore residents advised to defer travel to higher risk regions
In addition, Singapore residents are advised to defer all travel to higher risk countries and regions, including Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe until further notice.
MOH also encourages travellers who visit countries and regions with reported cases of the Omicron variant or countries with high traffic volume to these higher risk countries and regions to take extra precautions.
These include wearing masks, and observing good personal hygiene and Safe Management Measures even if these requirements are not required there.
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Top image by Lean Jinghui