Some workers who have recovered from Covid-19 exempted from routine testing

MOM and MOH said the exemption was made in consultation with infectious diseases specialists. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Workers who have recovered from Covid-19 have been exempted from rostered routine testing since Wednesday (Nov 4), said the Health and Manpower ministries in a statement on Friday (Nov 6).

They added that the exemption was made in consultation with infectious diseases specialists.

Latest scientific evidence has shown that the vast majority of recovered workers continue to have antibodies, including neutralising antibodies, 180 days after the onset of illness.

"This suggests that these workers are at low risk of developing re-infection," said the two ministries.

To date, no cases of Covid-19 re-infection have been recorded in Singapore.

However, workers who show symptoms suggestive of acute respiratory illness 90 days after contracting Covid-19 will continue to be tested for the coronavirus.

"This will allow us to detect any potential re-infections and enable swift and decisive measures to prevent further spread of Covid-19," said the ministries.

Compulsory rostered routine testing was first announced on Aug 11 by the authorities. It applies to all workers staying in dormitories, as well as those in the construction, marine and process sectors.

The ministries said they would review scientific evidence before deciding when to put recovered workers back on the rostered routine testing regime.

Recovered workers who are identified as close contacts of new Covid-19 patients, but are within 180 days from their date of infection, will also not need to be quarantined.

This is an increase of 30 days over the previous 150-day threshold set by the authorities.

The ministries also announced that workers who contracted Covid-19 before April 16 and have recovered will undergo monitoring tests as the earliest cohort of workers in Singapore to have recovered from the virus.

If there is evidence of re-infection among these recovered workers, or if they show signs that their antibodies are fading, the authorities will consider resuming rostered routine testing of recovered workers earlier.

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.