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SMS alerts, mandatory testing for people who visited COVID-19 hotspots on same days as confirmed cases

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Singapore

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Singapore
People have their noses swabbed in Singapore, on Jun 9, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Edgar Su)

(Updated: )

SINGAPORE: Individuals who have been to COVID-19 hotspots on the same days as confirmed cases will soon receive alerts via SMS and be required to undergo mandatory testing at designated testing centres. 

This is a new process to enable a “wider ringfencing” of COVID-19 cases and help curb the spread of the virus in Singapore, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said on Friday (Jun 18) at a press conference held by the multi-ministry task force. 

Mr Wong, who is co-chair of the COVID-19 task force, added: “So it’s not just up to you – if you’re worried, come forward, but we will send you an alert and it will be required for you to undergo a mandatory test at the testing centre.”

READ: Dining-in to resume from Jun 21 but in groups of two, not five

These individuals will have to stay isolated until they receive their results, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a press release.

“While the risk of infection is lower if they were to test negative, they should continue to limit their interactions with others as an added precaution and restrict their activities to only those which are essential,” it said.

Essential activities will include going to work for those who are unable to work from home. “However, they must comply strictly with all the safe management measures at the workplace,” MOH added.

Individuals who have been to the hotspots visited by the COVID-19 cases will also be given DIY test kits at the testing centres. They will have to self-administer at home over the subsequent days to confirm that they are not infected.

“Because we know there’s an incubation period, so one test is not sufficient,” said Mr Wong. 

The task force on Friday announced that dine-ins at food and beverage outlets will resume from Jun 21 in groups of two, down from the initial plan of five, as authorities calibrate reopening plans amid a persistent number of unlinked cases. 

The group size of two will also apply to indoor fitness activities with masks off.

READ: SafeEntry Gateway check-out boxes to be rolled out at malls, other high footfall venues

“As we resume activities from Jun 21 onwards, cases are bound to go up. We have to expect that and be mentally prepared for this. We will do our best to prevent large clusters from arising,” said Mr Wong.

“We have 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.”

He added: “So 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.”

Further details on this will be announced when ready, MOH said.

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