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Update on rostered routine testing policy for Migrant workers recovered from covid-19

  1. The Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), in consultation with infectious diseases specialists, have reviewed the latest scientific evidence and found that the vast majority of a cohort of recovered workers continue to have antibodies, including neutralising antibodies1, at day 180 from the onset of illness. This suggests that these workers are at low risk of developing re-infection. There have also been no cases of re-infection in Singapore to date.
  2. Based on the latest scientific evidence, MOH and MOM will exempt all COVID-19 recovered workers2 from RRT with effect from 4 November 2020. This is in view of the low risk of re-infection, which means the workers are unlikely to benefit from RRT.  We will continue to review the scientific evidence, before deciding when is the appropriate juncture for these workers to be put back on the RRT regime.  In addition, recovered workers within 180 days of infection (instead of 150 days previously) need not be quarantined if they are identified as close contacts of COVID-19 cases.
  3. There is no change to the RRT policy for workers who have never been infected with COVID-19. This approach allows us to focus our efforts on workers who have never been infected as they are at greater risk.
  4. However, to maintain vigilance, all recovered workers past 90 days from the onset of illness who present with symptoms suggestive of acute respiratory illness will continue to be tested for COVID-19 as part of our multi-layered strategy to manage risk of transmission. This will allow us to detect any potential re-infections and enable swift and decisive measures to prevent further spread of COVID-19.
  5. It remains critical to the management of recovered workers for MOH and MOM to continue to advance our understanding on how the level of antibodies in recovered workers will change over time. We will closely monitor all recovered workers with illness onset before 16 April 2020. They will undergo monitoring tests, which include polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and serology tests, at regular intervals. This group is identified as they are amongst the earliest cohort of workers in Singapore to have recovered from the infection and their antibodies are likely to be the first to fade. If we detect that their antibodies are starting to fade, or if there is evidence of re-infection of recovered workers, we may resume RRT of recovered workers earlier.
  6. MOH and MOM will continue to review the latest scientific evidence relevant to these measures and revise our policies accordingly. It remains the shared responsibility of all stakeholders including dormitory operators, employers and workers to ensure strict compliance to Safe Living Measures, and to seek care when unwell in our fight against COVID-19.
     

FOOTNOTE

  1. 1 Neutralising antibodies (NAbs) are specific antibodies present in the serum of COVID-19 patients that are responsible for clearing the viral infection.
  2. 2 This applies to all dormitory dwelling workers and workers in the Construction, Marine and Process (CMP) sectors regardless of their place of residence.