SINGAPORE – The protocols and procedures for testing and isolation of COVID-19 cases will be significantly simplified from 11 October and streamlined into three protocols.
At a COVID multi-ministry taskforce (MTF) virtual press conference on Saturday (9 October), Health Minister and MTF co-chair Ong Ye Kung said that a key move is to reserve polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing 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.
Ong said that there is an emphasis towards personal responsibility and self-management.
These are the new streamlined protocols, detailed in a Ministry of Health (MOH) press release:
For those who are unwell and tested positive, they should see a doctor. They will either be placed on the Home Recovery Programme (HRP) 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.
For those who are well and tested 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.
There will now be a single approach for contacts of COVID-19 cases – a Health Risk Warning (HRW) that lasts seven days from the day of its issuance, that is based on ART self-testing.
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, that is Day 2 to 7, the person should test ART negative on 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.
Households to receive more ART kits
COVID-19 patients will serve out the 10-day or 14-day isolation, depending on the individual's vaccination status.
Those on a quarantine order 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," the MOH said, "At the end of Day 7, you may exit quarantine. In other words, you can follow Protocol 3."
To provide greater support for regular self-testing at home, the ministry will be conducting another round of distribution of ART kits from 22 October to 7 December, via SingPost. Each household will receive a package containing 10 ART self-test kits.
A group of 50 volunteers will be going door-to-door to distribute Antigen Rapid Test (ART) kits. Called Project #ART4ALL, the initiative will see the group of youths provide 5,000 pairs of ART kits to approximately 5,000 low income individuals and household members across Singapore.
The volunteers will also perform demonstrations on how to administer the ART kits correctly upon request, as well educating residents on keeping themselves safe from the COVID-19 virus.
Project #ART4All aims to ensure vulnerable groups, including stranded, homeless and low-income individuals, are equipped with sufficient ART kits to ride them through these times.
For more information on getting these ART kits, or if you know someone who needs it, fill up the request form while stocks last.