SINGAPORE — The period for individuals under COVID-19 quarantine will be reduced from 14 days to 10 days as the Delta variant has a shorter incubation period, the multi-ministry taskforce (MTF) on the coronavirus said at a virtual conference on Friday (10 September).
The measure will be implemented next week, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a statement.
The Delta’s incubation period is an average of under four days compared to an average of six days for the original strain, MOH said. This means that it takes an average of four days after exposure to the virus, for it to be detectable in the individual.
"This will be less disruptive to people, and yet capture a significant majority of infected cases," Health Minister Ong Ye Kung and MTF co-chair said at the conference.
The new measure is conditional on the person under quarantine testing negative for COVID-19 at the end of his quarantine. The person will need to continue conducting a daily Antigen Rapid Test (ART) after the quarantine period to Day 14 to mitigate any remaining risk of infection.
As the number of infection cases builds up, the authorities will prioritise contact tracing resources on preventing large clusters at high-risk and vulnerable settings.
“We will rely more on TraceTogether data to identify close contacts of COVID-19 cases,” MOH said.
Close contacts of a COVID-19 case will be issued Health Risk Warnings (HRW) or Health Risk Alerts (HRA) and should get tested to minimise the risk of spread of disease. Household members of confirmed COVID-19 cases will have to quarantine themselves to further prevent risk of spread of disease. More information on the self-quarantine arrangement and the support for these persons will be released later.
The authorities will also begin distributing ART kits from next week to companies that do not have to undertake the mandatory 14-day Fast and Easy Test (FET) Rostered Routine Testing (RRT).
The MTF previously announced that workplaces not on mandatory RRT should carry out regular testing for their onsite staff over a two-month period.
On 6 September, MTF announced that sectors currently on mandatory 14-day FET RRT will need to increase their frequency of testing to every seven days starting from next Monday. New sectors with frequent interactions with the community would also be progressively onboarded onto the seven-day FET RRT.
Beyond workplace testing, MOH encourages Singaporeans to use the ART kits that are currently being distributed to all households by 27 September, to self-test themselves before visiting crowded places, attending events or visiting vulnerable seniors in order to help keep the community safe.
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