7-day stay-home notice period for Malaysian workers in Singapore decided based on risk assessment

An empty Causeway seen in a photo taken on July 26, 2020. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - Malaysians with Singapore work passes will serve a seven-day stay-home notice (SHN) instead of 14 days as Covid-19 prevalence rates in Malaysia are similar to Singapore's, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong on Thursday (Aug 6).

The decision on a shorter SHN is based on risk assessments and will include Malaysians who are permanent residents here who also hold a local work pass.

"Malaysia's prevalence rates are significantly similar to Singapore's, and in some cases lower than Singapore's prevalence rates. Therefore, the risk of infection is quite similar to a fellow Singaporean," said Mr Gan.

The Health Ministry's director of medical services Kenneth Mak said the policy on how Singapore handles incoming travellers is one that is constantly being reviewed.

He noted, for example, that the Government had adjusted its policy to include testing of visitors to Singapore because of a concern that some would arrive here asymptomatic and infect others.

Associate Professor Mak added that Singapore's original approach was to isolate travellers for 14 days, based on the maximum incubation period for the coronavirus.

But after several reviews, the authorities found that most visitors who were symptomatic had displayed symptoms within five or six days upon entering Singapore.

"That allowed us then to think about considering shortening the duration of SHN for countries where the original prevalence (of Covid-19) in that country was low," said Prof Mak.

Under the periodic commuting arrangement, Singapore and Malaysia residents who hold long-term immigration passes for business and work purposes in the other country can enter that country for work.

They have to remain in the destination country for at least 90 days before returning for home leave, and travellers under this arrangement can only enter or exit via the two land checkpoints - in Woodlands or Tuas.

Travellers entering Singapore under this scheme are required to serve an SHN of at least seven days and undertake a Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction swab test.

Singapore and Malaysia also have a separate reciprocal green lane scheme that allows short-term travel for essential business or official purposes between the two countries for up to 14 days.

Those under the scheme must travel via airports in Singapore and Malaysia that have available non-stop flight routes or through the land checkpoints.

Before the trip, they must get approval from the authorities of the country they intend to visit.

All other travellers entering Singapore must serve a 14-day SHN.

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