M’sian workers returning to SG will serve a 7-day SHN because COVID-19 symptoms show within 5-6 days and M’sia has lower prevalence of Covid-19

But it does not apply to high-risk countries, which will still observe 14 days

Based on the data from the Ministry of Health (MOH), findings showed that for incoming travellers with Covid-19, a majority of the cases show their symptoms within 5 to 6 days.

According to Kenneth Mak, the director of medical services in MOH, the multi-ministry task force (MTF) implemented the 14-day guideline for most measures because that was the maximum incubation period for Covid-19 before symptoms started showing.

He was speaking to the media at a news conference on Thursday (6 Aug), along with MTF’s co-chair and Health Minister Gan Kim Yong and Lawrence Wong, who also sits as co-chair in the task force. 

The MTF consequently found that asymptomatic cases, where Covid-19 carriers show little to no symptoms but still spread the virus around, exist.

Therefore they implemented a testing procedure where asymptomatic Covid-19 cases can still be detected in inbound travellers. 

COVID-19 symptoms typically show within 5 – 6 days

However, Mr Mak went on to explain that based on their data on incoming travellers with Covid-19, the majority of the cases show their symptoms within 5 to 6 days.

Hence with a quarantine duration of seven days, coupled with the usual testing regime for incoming travellers, the MTF is moderately confident that the measure will suffice in stopping COVID-19 cases at the borders.

Malaysia has a lower prevalence of COVID-19 within their country

Based on the risk assessment that the MTF has made, they felt that it is sound to apply this to Malaysia as they have a lower prevalence of COVID-19 within their country.

In the month of August thus far, Malaysia reported 62 new COVID-19 cases.

Other than the risk profile of the country from which the traveller is arriving from, another factor that the MTF is looking at is what mitigating measures the country has enforced this far in their countries. 

But he stated a disclaimer that the special 7-day stay-home notice (SHN) for Malaysians does not apply to all countries. 

Countries with a higher risk profile will still observe a 14-day SHN. 

Members of the public counter that low prevalence doesn’t mean no risk; questions double standards and putting economic interest as priority

Comments were aflood with criticisms about how a double-standard SHN may lead to a second wave of infections through imported cases. 

Many put into perspective that low-risk countries do not mean they have carry no risks of COVID-19. 

Low prevalence may also be because testing is minimal in these countries, which explains the low count of reported cases. 

Others pointed out that the driver behind this risk- management framework is to reopen the economy promptly and that the MTF has put the business of Singapore over the health of citizens. 

Incoming travellers have to wear an electronic device on their wrists from 11 August 

An additional measure of wearing an electronic device for the 14 days during the stay-home notice (SHN) will be enforced for travellers entering Singapore from 11 August onwards. 

In a joint press release issued on Monday (3 Aug) by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA), Ministry of Manpower (MOM), and Ministry of Education (MOE), all incoming travellers entering Singapore who are serving their SHN outside of an SHN dedicated facility will need to don an electronic monitoring device throughout the 14 days. 

This includes Singapore Citizens, Singapore Permanent Residents, long-term pass holders, work pass holders, and their dependents.

Those aged 12 and below are exempted. 

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August 2020