Stay-home notice cut to 14 days for travellers from high-risk areas, but additional Covid-19 rapid tests a must

Stay-home notice cut to 14 days for travellers from high-risk areas, but additional Covid-19 rapid tests a must

SINGAPORE - All new travellers arriving from high-risk countries and regions will have their stay-home notice (SHN) cut to 14 days, instead of 21 days, to be served at dedicated facilities from 11.59pm on Wednesday (June 23). 

However, they must take an antigen rapid test using self-test kits on the third, seventh and 11th day after arriving in Singapore.

This new requirement will come into force at 11.59pm on June 27.

Travellers can collect the self-test kits when they reach the SHN facilities.

The higher-risk places include all countries or regions except Australia, Brunei, Hong Kong, Macau, China and New Zealand.

Affected travellers who are now serving their SHN will have their notice reviewed and they will be informed of their check-out arrangements separately.

The Ministry of Health (MOH), in a statement on Wednesday, said that while there is increased transmissibility with the new variants of concern, it found no evidence - from both overseas and local data - that these variants come with longer incubation periods.

It added that since the 21-day SHN for all travellers with recent travel history to higher-risk countries or regions was implemented from May 8, there were 270 imported cases among such travellers, as at Tuesday.

MOH said: "All of them had incubation periods well within the 14-day window. (Thus), we will reduce the SHN period from 21 days back to 14 days."

However, to identify potential infection cases early and provide infected travellers with appropriate medical care as soon as possible, travellers will be required to test themselves regularly with antigen rapid test (ART) self-test kits on the third, seventh and 11th day of their arrival in Singapore, while serving their SHN.

This is on top of the Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests they have to take on arrival in Singapore, and on Day 14 of their arrival, before they finish their SHN.

ART is a quick screening tool to detect the presence of the Sars-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19. It is able to pick up infections early and can be done in less than 20 minutes.

PCR tests are done by taking swabs from the nose or back of the throat, or from sputum. These tests are the gold standard for testing and look for genetic sequences of Covid-19.

MOH on Wednesday also said travellers who were in Taiwan and Israel 21 days immediately before arriving in Singapore will be allowed to apply to opt out of dedicated SHN facilities and serve their 14-day SHN in their homes.

However, they must not have travelled to any other country or region in the last 21 days and they must be living alone or only with household members who are also serving their SHN with the same travel history and duration of SHN.

Refund details are being worked out for travellers who are affected by these changes and they will be informed, MOH said.

Newly arrived migrant workers from higher-risk countries or regions and who are living in dormitories or working in the construction, marine and process sectors will continue to go through an additional seven-day stay at the Migrant Worker Onboarding Centre or a dedicated facility after they are cleared from their 14-day SHN at dedicated SHN facilities.

The additional seven-day stay has been in place since early this year and it includes an additional testing regime, medical examination and a settling-in programme (SIP), where required.

The Ministry of Manpower said on its website that the SIP is a one-day orientation programme to educate foreign workers on Singapore's social norms, their employment rights and responsibilities, as well as Singapore's laws and how they can seek assistance if needed.

This precautionary measure will further minimise any small risk of imported Covid-19 positive cases transmitting the virus in the dormitories or at the worksites which can result in large clusters, and will be regularly reviewed as the Covid-19 situation evolves.

First published by Cheryl Tan