SINGAPORE - With the number of weekly Covid-19 cases in Singapore almost doubling last week to more than 1,200, new measures were announced on Monday (Sept 6) to keep the situation under control.
They are to buy the country time to get more people vaccinated, and slow down transmission without having to go back to a state of heightened alert, or a circuit breaker, said Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19.
1. Health risk warnings (HRW) and health risk alerts (HRA) will be issued when new clusters are detected
Once a cluster is identified, health risk warnings (HRWs) and health risk alerts (HRAs) will be issued to exposed individuals to contain the clusters quickly.
These warnings and alerts are not quarantine orders (QO), which are legal orders issued to isolate an individual who is, or is suspected to be, a carrier of an infectious disease; or contact of a person confirmed to have an infectious disease.
Those who receive an HRW will be required by law to get a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test and self-isolate until they receive a negative result from their first test.
They will also be required to do an antigen rapid test (ART) thereafter, and another PCR test on the 14th day.
Those who receive an HRA are not subject to actions required by the law but are strongly encouraged to go for a PCR test as soon as possible.
For both HRWs and HRAs, individuals should reduce their social interactions for 14 days.
2. Workers from more sectors to undergo fast and easy routine tests more frequently
Workers in more sectors, including public transport front-line staff and supermarket workers, will now have to undergo mandatory fast and easy rostered routine testing.
Such tests will also have to be administered more frequently for these workers - from once a fortnight to once weekly.
These tests will continue to be administered primarily through the Employer Supervised Self-Swab scheme.
The Government will subsidise the cost of all tests under this enhanced surveillance regime, for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, until the end of this year.
3. Companies in sectors not subject to mandatory testing will get eight ART kits per employee
The Government will also issue to companies eight antigen rapid test (ART) kits per employee, to facilitate weekly testing of staff over a two-month period.
All companies are expected to initiate weekly testing for their onsite staff.
These tests can be administered by the individuals at home or at the work premises. But employers should put in place a process to ensure that the tests are done properly, and report the results to respective government agencies.
4. Public advised to limit social gatherings to one a day
For the next two weeks, people in Singapore are advised to limit themselves to one social gathering a day, whether to another household or in a public place. Social gatherings at workplaces are no longer allowed from Wednesday.
The Government will take tougher action if there are positive cases among infected workers.
In particular, employers will be required to put in place a maximum work-from-home requirement over a 14-day period, should one or more of their workers be found to have contracted Covid-19 and have returned to their workplace.
This means that everyone in the company who can work from home will be required to do so.
Those who are working from home should minimise social gatherings and leave their homes only for essential activities during this 14-day period.
5. Covid-19 vaccine booster shots also being considered for younger adults
Mr Wong said on Monday that the Government is also studying the possibility of rolling out Covid-19 vaccine booster shots for younger adults.
"This will not only protect them, but also help to slow down transmission," he said.
The Government announced last week that it will be rolling out booster shots for seniors, starting from later this month.