Singapore, China consult on travellers who still test positive

Aviation security staff at Changi Airport Terminal 3 arrival hall assign Singaporeans hotels for them to serve their stay-home notices on May 10, 2020.
Aviation security staff at Changi Airport Terminal 3 arrival hall assign Singaporeans hotels for them to serve their stay-home notices on May 10, 2020.PHOTO: ST FILE

The authorities here are working with their Chinese counterparts to provide feedback on travellers returning to China who have been deemed non-infectious by Singapore, but have a positive Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test result.

At a virtual press conference yesterday, the Health Ministry's director of medical services Kenneth Mak said some may be recovered Covid-19 patients who are no longer infectious, but continue to shed fragments of the coronavirus.

A reporter for China Central Television had cited an incident in which returning workers who were cleared of the virus later tested positive for Covid-19, and asked the multi-ministry task force if there were differences in the tests used by the two countries.

"On occasion, some of these workers may still have a positive PCR test, but all other tests done for them show that they are no longer infectious," said Associate Professor Mak.

"We have no problems in certifying them fit for travel."

He said the Chinese authorities will flag such travellers as being PCR positive. In such an event, the cases are raised to the Singapore authorities, who will give feedback to their Chinese counterparts.

Prof Mak said Singapore is committed to helping workers return to their home countries.

"We want to make sure that they have every opportunity to return home to see their family whom they have not seen for quite a long while," he said.

The Chinese Embassy here earlier announced on its website that travellers from Singapore would have to produce a negative Covid-19 test result before boarding the plane.

 
 

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said that the local authorities would work with the Chinese Embassy to facilitate testing.

Prof Mak noted: "Once these Chinese travellers are back in China, it is the prerogative of our colleagues (there) to decide how to... manage them.

"And at this point in time, I understand that a number of these individuals might still be put under quarantine and isolation in an abundance of caution."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 22, 2020, with the headline 'S'pore, China consult on travellers who still test positive'. Print Edition | Subscribe