Measures to Decrease Health Risks amidst recent Spikes in Community Cases
By Clare Chong
With the recent spike in weekly Covid-19 community cases from 600 to 1200, new measures were announced by the government on Sep 6 to curb the spread.
HEALTH RISKS WARNING(HRW) AND HEALTH RISK ALERTS (HRA)
Individuals exposed to a newly identified cluster will be issued either an HRW or HRA. HRWs are issued to individuals who are identified as close contacts of Covid-19 patients or those who have been near a patient for an extended period of time. These individuals are mandated by law to get a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test and self-isolate until tested negative for the first test.They will need to perform an antigen rapid test (ART) as well and a subsequent PCR test on the 14th day.
HRAs are issued to individuals whose SafeEntry records overlap with that of Covid-10 patients. They are not required to get tested but are nonetheless highly recommended to get a PCR test as soon as possible. The Ministry of Health stated that HRW and HRAs are not Quarantine orders (QO) although individuals who are issued with these alerts should nevertheless limit social contact with others for 14 days. QO, on the other hand, are legal orders to isolate those who are suspected to be a carrier of an infectious disease, or contact of a person confirmed to have an infectious disease.
MANDATORY FAST AND EASY ROSTERED ROUTINE TESTING FOR WORKERS FROM MORE SECTORS
Employees from more sectors, including retail mall staff, supermarket workers, private and public transport frontline workers as well as delivery personnel will now be required to go through compulsory rostered testing. These tests have to be carried out weekly through the Employer Supervised Self Swab scheme. The government will continue to subsidise test costs under this enhanced surveillance scheme for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals until the end of the year. Previously, only employees in higher-risk sectors such as personal care services, gym and fitness centres as well as food and beverage outlets were mandated to take such tests.
STEPPING UP OF REGULAR TESTING WITH 8 ART KITS PER EMPLOYEE
All companies in sectors that are not subjected to mandatory testing will also receive 8 ART kits per staff to facilitate weekly testing for onsite staff over a 2 month period. Tests can be performed by employees at home or in the workplace but employers are expected to set up a process to ensure that the tests are administered properly and report the results to the relevant authorities.
PUBLIC ADVISED TO PRACTISE SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE BEHAVIOUR BY LIMITING NON ESSENTIAL SOCIAL ACTIVITIES
Members of the public are highly urged to limit non-essential social activities for the next 2 weeks, with social circles reduced to a small group of regular contacts and social gatherings kept to one per day, whether to a public place or to another household.
Social gatherings in the workplace will also not be permitted from Sep 8 due to recent clusters emerging in workplaces where lax safe management measures were observed. Employers have a maximum of one day to implement a “snap 14-day work from home regime” for all its staff if one employee tests positive for Covid-19 and has been to the workplace for the past week, announced the Ministry of Manpower on Sep 7.
According to MOH, "This means that everyone in the company who can WFH will be required to do so. Those who are working from home should minimise social gatherings and leave their homes only for essential activities during this 14-day period."
VACCINE BOOSTER SHOTS CONSIDERED FOR YOUNGER ADULTS
The government is also considering the possibility of rolling out Covid-19 booster shots for younger adults to help slow down transmission. It was announced last week that booster shots will be rolled out this month for seniors.
SLOWING DOWN THE SPREAD OF COVID-19 COMMUNITY CASES IN SINGAPORE
Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19 urged individuals to scale back their social interactions during this period,“The more we circulate, the more we are out and about, there is always a chance that those circulating around so much may inadvertently become the source of the next superspreader event."
What do you think about the above new measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 cases in the community?