The recent saga involving former DJ Jade Rasif and the terrible experience she had with COVID-19 quarantine orders has revealed some loopholes in the Government’s quarantine orders for those arriving in Singapore.
Earlier this week, Ms Rasif disclosed that her new domestic worker, an Indonesia national, was only asked to serve three to four days of her quarantine period at a quarantine centre after arriving in the country. This is despite the fact that Ms Rasif had paid S$2,500 for her helper to observe the full 14 days quarantine, as required by the Government.
Earlier this year, the Ministry of Manpower said that Foreign Domestic Workers (FDWs) who have recovered from a previous COVID-19 infection, or have been vaccinated, are allowed to enter Singapore as the country had begun rolling out its national inoculation efforts.
In response to a query from TOC, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said that FDWs with a recent travel history to higher-risk countries/regions will have to take an on-arrival serology test.
This protocol was implemented starting 5 February 2021, said MOH Quality Service Manager Yasmin Nisha.
The on-arrival serology test will be done in addition to the on-arrival polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test requirement that has been in place since 24 January this year.
“The additional on-arrival serology test will allow for the identification of workers who have recovered from an old COVID-19 infection and have antibodies,” said MOM.
“They can therefore be released from SHN.”
As for FDWs who have been vaccinated, it was noted that they will still be subject to prevailing border measures and Stay-Home Notice (SHN) requirements.
MOH said back then in its 5 Mar reply, “With regards to vaccinated individuals, while there is evidence that COVID-19 vaccines are effective in preventing symptomatic disease, the extent of their ability in preventing transmission to others is still being studied.
“MOH is actively monitoring the vaccine situation, including studies on the effectiveness of vaccines in reducing transmission risk.
“As these studies are still ongoing, all travellers, including those who have undergone vaccination, will continue to be subject to prevailing border measures and SHN requirements. We will review these requirements as more information on vaccine effectiveness becomes available.”
Foreign participants of sporting event exempted from full 14 days SHN
Besides FDWs, visitors from overseas who are attending major events are also exempted from the full 14 days quarantine for unknown reasons.
In March 2021, Dota 2 teams who were participating in the first Major had expressed their dissatisfaction and provisions in place for the tournament, which was held in Singapore from 27 March to 4 April.
Gaming news site AFKGaming reported on 10 March that caster and gaming content creator Shannon “SUNSfan” Scotten said most teams from the commonwealth of independent states (CIS), Southeast Asia, North America, and South America hoped that the One Esports Singapore Major was cancelled.
The teams noted that they had issues with the 48-hour quarantine requirement in place for the participants, which is not the usual 14-days quarantine that most countries have adopted for in-bound traveller since the COVID-19 pandemic.
SUNSfan noted that this shorter quarantine period could potentially increase the risk of virus transmission given how short the time frame is, and the fact that player could already be infected before arriving or become infected on the way to Singapore.
Though, both hosts of the podcast did also say that it was difficult to determine if the issues on regulation and other protocols—such as staggered arrivals for teams and a lack of PCs leaving some teams with insufficient time to practice before the matches—are due to the pandemic or the organisers.
The duo acknowledged that they knew little of Singapore’s pandemic protocols.
In another sporting event, four men who arrived in Singapore last month to participate in a ONE Championship mixed martial arts event have tested positive for COVID-19.
These men arrived from Brazil, Canada and Serbia, and was included in the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) daily COVID-19 cases on 5 April.
“One foreign participant who was on the same flight as one of these individuals also tested positive for COVID-19,” said ONE in response to Channel News Asia’s queries, noting that the individual was isolated after arriving in Singapore.
However, ONE did not specify where the fourth person travelled from.
According to Ministry of Health’s (MOH) data, the three men, identified as Cases 61571, 61577 and 61578 arrived in Singapore on short-term visit passes “to participate in a sporting event”.
MOH also added that another man who arrived from Canada and was tested positive for the coronavirus, is a contact of Case 61577.
ONE Championship revealed that all four participants tested negative for COVID-19 before flying into Singapore.
“As part of the stringent protocols for foreign participants, they were placed in isolation upon arrival,” it added.
However, one of the men has been discharged from hospital after his serological test result came back positive, indicating that it was most likely a past infection, said ONE Championship.
“As an added precaution, he had undergone a (polymerase chain reaction) test on Apr 6 and tested negative for COVID-19. As such, he will be allowed to participate in the event.”
“In line with ONE’s protocols and the Singapore Government’s regulations, all foreign and local-based athletes and cornermen must be isolated until they receive a negative test result, after which they will follow a strictly controlled itinerary that has been pre-approved.
“Public health and safety remain our top priority. We will continue to work with the Singapore Government to ensure the safety of our athletes, crew and community,” said ONE Championship.
However, it would seem that other athletes who were tested negative, were allowed to compete on 7 April without serving 14 days of quarantine.
And these are just some of the examples that are publicly known.
As one can see, the quarantine orders of 14 days were not enforced strictly as what many thought it to be.