SINGAPORE, Nov 30 — From 11.59pm on Thursday (December 2), travellers entering Singapore from higher-risk countries and regions must undergo a Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on arrival. 

These include travellers entering the country from Category 2 countries that are not on the quarantine-free vaccinated travel lane (VTL) scheme, as well as those in Categories 3 and 4.

In the meantime, all travellers arriving in Singapore under the VTL scheme will have to take two extra Covid-19 antigen rapid tests (ARTs) on their third and seventh day of arrival under supervision at a quick test centre. 

The Ministry of Health (MOH) announced the extra testing requirements today as part of a slew of measures to contain the Omicron strain of the coronavirus. 

MOH said that the extra testing requirements for travellers from these regions, as well as for those entering via the VTLs, would be in place for four weeks. The authorities will then review and extend these measures if needed.

While Singapore has not detected the potentially more infectious variant here so far, MOH said that the tightened controls would help the authorities quickly detect and isolate cases and reduce the risk of importation.

In response to the Omicron variant showing up in more countries, Singapore’s authorities also announced other new measures to contain its spread at its borders and in the community.

These include:

  • All air travellers from Category 1 regions, which have the lowest Covid-19 risk, who arrive in or transit through Singapore from 11.59pm on Thursday must test negative for Covid-19 through a pre-departure test within two days before their departure. Places under Category 1 are Hong Kong, Macau, mainland China and Taiwan. Right now, such travellers need only take a PCR test on arrival
  • All travellers who arrived in Singapore between Nov 12 and 27, and were in regions affected by the Omicron variant in the 14 days before arrival, must take a PCR test
  • Airport and other front-line border workers who may come into contact with travellers from places affected by the Omicron variant must from Thursday take a weekly rostered routine PCR test
  • Cases confirmed or suspected to be infected with the Omicron strain would be barred from undergoing home recovery and instead be taken to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases for isolation and management
  • The authorities are advising Singapore residents to defer all travel to higher-risk countries or regions, including Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, until further notice

MOH said that it would continue monitoring and evaluating data on the Omicron variant, and adjust border and community measures accordingly.

“We seek Singaporeans’ understanding and support in the coming weeks as calibration to our measures may need to be introduced quickly, given the fluidity of the situation,” the ministry said.

The World Health Organisation has listed Omicron as a “variant of concern” and countries across the globe are restricting travel from southern Africa, where the new strain first emerged, and taking other fresh precautions.

Routine testing for front-line border workers

Aircrew serving flights from regions hit by the Omicron variant would also be subject to an on-arrival PCR test, and post-arrival PCR tests on the third and seventh days after each flight duty.

Other airport and front-line border workers will continue with rostered routine testing using ARTs.

As an added precaution, workers who test positive on an ART must go for a PCR test to confirm the infection. 

All front-line border workers, including recovered Covid-19 patients, must undergo the rostered testing.

No home recovery for suspected omicron cases

The authorities will conduct full contact tracing for cases suspected or confirmed to be infected with the Omicron variant to identify their close contacts.

These close contacts will be quarantined for 10 days at government quarantine facilities instead of being allowed to self-isolate at home.

They will take a PCR test at the start and end of their quarantine.

Updated travel advisory

The authorities are encouraging travellers who visit places with cases of the Omicron variant, or countries with high traffic volume to these higher-risk countries or regions, to take extra precautions.

These include wearing face masks as well as observing good personal hygiene and infection controls, even if these precautions are not required there. — TODAY