Singapore to also isolate household members of close contacts of Covid-19 cases

Residents queueing for swab tests at Block 506 Hougang Ave 8 on May 21, 2021. Whole households will be isolated if one of its members is a close contact of a Covid-19 case, said PM Lee.
Residents queueing for swab tests at Block 506 Hougang Ave 8 on May 21, 2021. Whole households will be isolated if one of its members is a close contact of a Covid-19 case, said PM Lee.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Singapore will begin putting entire households in isolation, should one household member be identified as a close contact of a Covid-19 case, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Monday (May 31).

This is because the country's experience has shown that an infected person is quite likely to pass the virus on to others in the same household.

If the first-degree contact tests negative, the entire household can be safely released from isolation, PM Lee added.

"But if later, the first-degree contact tests positive, we will have saved precious time by isolating his household members earlier," he said.

"This more aggressive approach will help us to shut down clusters more quickly, and with fewer cases."

This change to Singapore's contact-tracing strategy will help the country track down cases faster and cast its net more widely, enabling it to deal with more infectious variants of the virus, such as the B1617 strain first detected in India.

The Republic's contact-tracing capabilities have vastly improved since Covid-19 first hit, PM Lee said.

"The contact tracers are working faster and better, because they have more experience and skills, and better tools."

These tools include TraceTogether and SafeEntry, which help speed up the rate at which contacts are identified.

For instance, TraceTogether enables contacts to be identified and quarantined within hours rather than days, while SafeEntry helps the authorities identify thousands of people who had visited the same places as infected cases and inform them to come forward for a free Covid-19 test.

This was done for the Jem/Westgate mall cluster, as well as a cluster linked to White Sands mall and the latest cluster at NTUC Foodfare outlet in Anchorvale.

"Because of Singaporeans' self-discipline, public spirit and support of TraceTogether and SafeEntry, we are contact tracing faster and more comprehensively," he added.

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