askST: Do I still need to self-isolate in a room with an attached bathroom?

From Monday, all close contacts of positive cases issued health risk warnings will no longer be quarantined. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - The Health Ministry (MOH) has put out simpler rules for Covid-19 patients and those who have been in close contact with them.

The aim is to make healthcare protocols easier to understand and reduce the burden on government resources, including phone operators and quarantine officers.

These are the answers to some questions you might have:

Q: Under the new rules, are Covid-19 patients still required to self-isolate in rooms with attached bathrooms?

A: No, as long as they are able to properly clean the bathroom and toilet after use. This is to ensure that everyone else in the household is not exposed to the virus.

People who have tested positive will be asked about their living arrangements, to help the authorities better understand what their home situation is like.

They will then be given advice on whether it is safe to isolate at home or if they should be taken to a community isolation facility.

For instance, if you are living with an elderly parent who is not vaccinated, you might be moved to such a facility to prevent him from being infected.

Q: If I have received a health risk warning because I have come into close contact with a Covid-19 case, can I leave my home to collect the antigen rapid test (ART) kits at vending machines?

A: Yes, a trip out just to collect ART kits is acceptable. The Government will also be distributing more ART kits between Oct 22 and Dec 7.

Each household will get 10 such kits.

People who cannot collect these kits from vending machines - for instance, those with mobility issues - will be able to get help from the People's Association and other volunteer groups.

Q: Why are polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests being used less frequently now? If ARTs are less sensitive than PCR tests, why is Singapore relying on them?

A: The Delta variant tends to result in higher viral loads which increase rapidly, making patients more infectious. But this also means that ARTs are better able to detect the virus, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said.

At present, about 10 per cent of people quarantined after coming into close contact with a confirmed case eventually become infected.

Eight in 10 of this group test positive at the start of their quarantine, while the rest test positive during the remaining quarantine period.

From Monday, all close contacts of positive cases issued health risk warnings will no longer be quarantined and can leave their homes as long as they test negative.

They will have to monitor their health for seven days. Repeated ARTs over this period will be able to "significantly and substantively manage the risk" of Covid-19 transmission, while minimising the restrictions they face.

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