People who have recovered from Covid-19 for 180 days to be exempt from pre-event testing in Singapore

The reason is they are very likely to be immune to another infection, based on current evidence. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - People who have recovered from Covid-19 for 180 days and are well would not need to take tests that are required before an event, in a pilot move that will start from this month to December.

The reason is they are very likely to be immune to another infection, based on current evidence, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) at a media briefing on Tuesday (Oct 20).

This pre-event testing - to be piloted at selected functions such as wedding receptions, live performances and sports gatherings - complements existing safe management measures, such as mask wearing, safe distancing, group size and capacity limits, and is not meant to replace them.

Antigen rapid tests (ARTs), which can yield results more quickly, would be used for such testing, although they have a lower accuracy rate compared to polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, which are definitive tests for the confirmation of Covid-19 cases.

The pilot programme is being done to allow MOH to study the processes involved to conduct such testing, and for more large-scale events to resume eventually.

The ministry said: "At this stage, we are confident that for those who have recovered from an infection and they remain well and asymptomatic, we don't think we need to test them for a period of 180 days.

"But we're looking very closely at the evidence as well as the various studies we're doing for recovered people… to determine whether we can safely extend that period beyond 180 days and exempt people further from other tests."

This period of exemption applies not just to those involved in the pilot, but also to others who need to do PCR tests, like migrant workers who have to undergo routine rostered testing every 14 days.

MOH added that it is looking at data not just from Singapore, but also internationally.

But as the understanding of immunity to Covid-19 is still evolving, the ministry said there is a need to act cautiously and not extend the period of exemption unless it is confident it can do so.

"We're also mindful that there have been reports of cases of recurrent infections occurring, and therefore as the interval lengthens, there's always a risk there will be a few people with recurring infections coming in.

"We've not seen that in Singapore, but that possibility always exists and, therefore, we're being careful," added MOH.

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