Singapore to hold back further relaxation of COVID-19 measures amid rise of Omicron variant worldwide

While existing measures will not be dialed back on for now, there will be a freeze on new VTLs.

Charlotte Chang

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Published: 1 December 2021, 3:42 PM

Singapore will halt any further relaxation of social measures following the growing spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant worldwide, authorities said on Tuesday (Nov 30). 

While existing measures in the Transition Phase will not be dialed back, authorities have put a pause on relaxing measures for the time being. No timeline for the pause has been indicated.

Previously in November, the Multi-Ministry Taskforce for COVID-19 (MTF) said that it would look to further relax certain measures around end-December, when announcing the Transition Phase. 

The existing measures will not be dialed back for now, however.

Travellers entering Singapore will be subjected to stricter measures too. New Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTLs) will be frozen too. Already, the VTLs with Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE have been deferred until further notice. 

This move is to help Singapore to improve detection and slow down the spread of the Omicron variant. While there have been no reported cases of the Omicron variant in Singapore, two travellers from South Africa who transited at Changi Airport tested positive for the variant in Australia. 

From Thursday, weekly PCR tests will be conducted for airport and border frontline workers.

Air travellers who enter Singapore on the VTLs after Dec 2, 11.59pm, will also have to self-administer Antigen Rapid Tests (ART) at a Quick Test Centre on the third and seventh day of their arrival. 

This applies to aircrew serving flights from countries affected by the Omicron variant as well.

Travellers who have arrived in Singapore between Nov 12 to 27 from countries affected by the Omicron variant will need to undergo a one-time surveillance PCR test. These travellers have been notified of their scheduled test time and venue.

Suspected cases of the Omicron variant will not be allowed to undergo home recovery and will be taken to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) for isolation and management of the disease.

Identified close contacts will not be allowed to self-isolate at home, and will be placed on a 10-day quarantine at designated facilities. Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests will also be conducted at the start and end of their quarantine.

Weekly PCR tests will also be conducted for airport and border frontline workers.

Travellers from ​​Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe will currently also have to serve a Stay-Home Notice (SHN) at their designated accommodations. 

A stricter set of healthcare protocols will be implemented for the Omicron variant, and the MTF will continue to push for vaccination.

Minister of Health Mr Ong Ye Kung said: “In the meantime, we should take a prudent approach and implement appropriate measures to contain Omicron, not let it establish itself in our community, while we find out more about it.”

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