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Mandatory swab tests, SMS alerts for those who visit places on the same day as Covid-19 cases

SINGAPORE – There will be mandatory swab testing for people who have visited hot spots on the same days as Covid-19-infected persons, the multi-ministry taskforce on Covid-19 said in an update on Friday (June 18).

They will receive health alerts via SMS from the Ministry of Health (MOH).

The ministry said these people will have to undergo mandatory testing at designated testing centres and stay isolated until they receive their results.

“Given the increased transmissibility of viral strains, we will use Trace Together and Safe Entry data to strengthen our ringfencing around cases to prevent large clusters from arising,” MOH added.

“This will give us greater confidence to resume more activities while preventing transmissions.”

It noted that while the risk of infection is lower if they were to test negative, individuals who have been to hot spots visited by Covid-19 cases should continue to limit their interactions with others as an added precaution and restrict their activities to only those which are essential.

“In particular, those who need to go to work (as they cannot work from home) will be allowed to do so,” MOH said.

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“However, they must comply strictly with all the safe management measures at the workplace.”

These individuals will also receive DIY test kits at the testing centres. They will have to self-administer the tests at home over the subsequent days to confirm that they are not infected.

Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the task force, said: “We’ve already implemented more extensive quarantine operations, but there is a wider ring of people who are not close contacts, but may have some possible exposures to the virus.

“For example, you are in the restaurant, but not seated together, perhaps at a different table, but you are in this restaurant at the same time or perhaps in a shopping mall at the same time, when there are infected cases breaking out.”

MOH said further details will be announced when ready.

Mr Wong added: “This will be a new process that we are putting in place to help curb the spread of any new cases that may break out and we call on everyone in Singapore to do your part to help us control the infection and prevent large clusters from breaking out.”

In the coming weeks, Safe Entry Gateway check-out boxes will also be rolled out progressively at venues with high footfall.

“This follows public feedback from users who want to perform Safe Entry check-out, but are unable to do so currently. This will help to facilitate more precise contact tracing efforts,” MOH said.

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These check-out boxes will be deployed at areas such as malls, hospitals and polyclinics with higher movement of visitors.

They will also be at places where people are likely to be in close proximity for prolonged periods without masks, such as at dine-in food and beverage outlets, and gyms.

Eligible businesses will be notified and will receive their check-out boxes in the coming weeks.

“Members of the public are encouraged to perform Safe Entry check-out when leaving the premises as far as possible. This information will support the contact tracing process by providing more details for the identification of close contacts,” MOH said.

This article was first published in The Straits TimesPermission required for reproduction.

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