SINGAPORE, Sept 15 — From yesterday (September 14), household contacts of Covid-19 patients who are not traced to sensitive clusters such as those in schools, hospitals and markets frequented by seniors will be required to register online before they isolate themselves at home.
This is part of an update to home quarantine protocols announced by the Ministry of Health (MoH), in an effort to allow contact tracers to focus on the more sensitive clusters.
Last Friday, the government had announced that it was shortening quarantine periods from 14 to 10 days starting this week, to free up contact-tracing resources to focus on stemming large clusters at high-risk and vulnerable settings.
In a statement yesterday, MoH said that the shorter quarantine period kicked in last Saturday.
Those in quarantine before that day who have completed 10 or more days in isolation and tested negative for Covid-19 would have their quarantine orders cancelled earlier progressively.
Even so, they must continue to test themselves for the coronavirus using antigen rapid test kits on the 11th to the 14th day from their last exposure to confirmed Covid-19 cases.
New home quarantine rules
From yesterday, all confirmed Covid-19 cases who are not part of sensitive clusters will be notified by SMS (short message service) on the need to tell their household contacts to register themselves for quarantine online at https://go.gov.sg/quarantinereg.
There, household contacts must provide the last date of exposure with the patient and a phone number.
They will then receive an electronic quarantine order specifying the quarantine period and instructions to book Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) swab tests.
Those in quarantine will then have to go online to schedule their tests — one at the start of their quarantine, and the other, at the end — at a regional screening centre near their home.
They will be able to travel to these centres to undergo the tests, collect free antigen rapid test kits, administer the self-tests daily and upload their results.
They will have access to round-the-clock telemedicine services during their quarantine, should they feel unwell or need medical attention.
As is the case now, those with unsuitable home settings for quarantine may request to be sent to a government quarantine facility.
Health risk warnings: What to expect
In line with the shortened quarantine periods, MoH said that the period covered under health risk warnings has also been reduced from 14 to 10 days from yesterday.
The ministry issues such warnings to close contacts of Covid-19 cases based on data from the TraceTogether contact-tracing tool.
These contacts may not be from the households of confirmed cases and have a smaller risk of infection.
Those who receive such warnings are required by law to take a PCR swab test on receiving the notice, self-isolate until they receive a negative result, and administer three self-tests over the 10 days. They must also go for another PCR swab test at the end of that period.
Aside from health risk warnings, individuals may be issued health risk alerts.
These are for relatively shorter contacts with a Covid-19 case based on TraceTogether data or when their SafeEntry check-in records from the previous 14 days overlapped with an area of increased viral transmission.
They must monitor their health for the 10 days and are strongly encouraged to take a free PCR swab test, carry out regular self-tests over that period and minimise interactions with others.
MoH said that some individuals may receive an electronic quarantine order and health risk warning or alert at the same time.
It made clear that in such a case, they have to attend to the quarantine notification first.
A risk assessment will be made after the submission of their home quarantine registration and they may later have their quarantine converted to a health risk warning. ― TODAY