From Nov 17, travellers to Singapore from high-risk countries must take pre-departure Covid-19 PCR test

Travellers must take the test at least 72 hours before departing for Singapore. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

SINGAPORE - All travellers from higher-risk countries will be required to take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) Covid-19 test within 72 hours before departing for Singapore.

The Health Ministry (MOH) on Tuesday (Nov 10) said these travellers will still be required to serve a 14-day stay-home notice (SHN) upon their arrival, and be tested at the end of their quarantine.

Currently, only those who recently travelled to India, Indonesia and the Philippines have to test negative for Covid-19 to enter or transit through Singapore.

The new requirement will take effect at 11.59pm on Nov 17.

It will not apply to Singapore citizens or permanent residents returning from abroad, or to visitors from lower-risk countries such as Brunei, New Zealand, Vietnam, Australia and mainland China.

"We recognise that different countries/regions are at different stages of putting in place effective systems to control the spread of Covid-19," MOH said in a statement.

"We have therefore taken a risk-managed approach to our border controls, based on the assessed risk of importation and onward transmission in the community."

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Travellers from lower-risk countries or regions have to either take a PCR test - deemed the "gold standard" for Covid-19 tests - upon arrival, or serve a seven-day SHN and be tested at the end of that period.

Those from the second, higher-risk group has to serve their 14-day SHN at dedicated facilities. In some instances, they are allowed to serve this notice at home, but must be the only occupants in their places of residence.

Education Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force tackling the crisis, said this group of travellers also have to wear electronic monitoring devices to ensure they comply with the SHN.

As Singapore moves towards phase three of its reopening, it is monitoring two broad areas of risk, he added.

The first is the risk of imported cases coming through Singapore, while the second is the risk of local community cases flaring up here.

On the reopening of borders, Mr Wong said: "This is an existential issue because of our small size and our need to connect with the world. It's not just for economic activities, but also social and community needs. We must allow families to reunite and facilitate foreign domestic workers taking care of our loved ones."

All the imported Covid-19 cases to date have been on stay-home notices and therefore isolated from the community, he noted.

Having these travellers take a pre-departure test is an added precaution, he said.

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