| 20 May 2024, Monday |

Singapore boosts testing, holds off on further reopening over Omicron variant

Singapore will postpone more reopening steps until it assesses the Omicron COVID-19 variant, and would strengthen testing of passengers and frontline employees to decrease the danger of local transmission, officials said on Tuesday.

A quarantine-free admission policy for vaccinated newcomers in the Asian financial and tourism hub will not be expanded to further nations for the time being, according to Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, but present social distancing measures will stay in place.

“This is a responsible thing to do today, when we are confronted with a significant uncertainty,” Ong said at a press conference, adding that the variation has not yet been found locally.

Singapore will be prioritizing use of COVID-19 Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests produced by Thermo Fisher on travelers. Thermo Fisher said it is able to detect the Omicron variant.

Any Omicron cases found in Singapore will be placed in government healthcare facilities rather than the home isolation so far used for mild COVID-19 cases.

Ong said Singapore’s high vaccination rate should offer some protection against the variant.

The city-state had earlier restricted arrivals from South African countries, and deferred the expansion of the quarantine-free entry programme for vaccinated travelers from several Middle East countries, given “their proximity as transport nodes to the affected countries”.

  • Reuters