'Many and complex' COVID protocols will be simplified: Ong Ye Kung

·2 min read

SINGAPORE — The Singapore government will look into streamlining its COVID-19 healthcare, testing and isolation protocols, so that residents will find them simple enough to follow, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said on Saturday (2 October).

He acknowledged during a media conference by the Multi-ministry Taskforce for COVID-19 (MTF) that the current slate of protocols - which include Quarantine Orders, Health Risk Warnings, Health Risk Alerts and Rostered Routine Testing - can be "quite a bit of an alphabet soup".

"The protocols are...confusing and even frustrating" to the man in the street, said Ong, who co-chairs the MTF. He noted that they had been designed with the purpose of "trying to snuff out every cluster", but the country is in a "totally different position" now as it tries to ride safely through the current transmission wave.

The minister admitted that the confusion over protocols also contributes to an "overall apprehension" that COVID is a very serious disease, when it is not so for vaccinated people.

"This issue needs to be addressed because, if people don't understand, they can't do their part to exercise personal responsibility, much less help others," said Ong.

As such, the MTF is reviewing all the COVID-19 protocols holistically, making them "as easy to remember as possible", and hopes to present them soon.

Potential testing changes 

Director of medical services Kenneth Mak also elaborated on potential changes in testing protocols for whose infected with COVID-19 but who have no symptoms. 

Responding to a question on local health experts' recommendations that asymptomatic testing should stop, Prof Mak said his ministry is re-evaluating whether polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests should still be carried out in certain situations.

"As far as our protocols are concerned, we have lightened up," said Prof Mak. For example, a PCR test is no longer automatically recommended should an asymptomatic individual test positive on an antigen rapid test (ART) at home.

"We emphasise that these individuals can exercise social responsibility to self-isolate and self-monitor for any symptoms that they may have. If, after three days, a repeat ART is now negative, they can actually resume their normal activities."

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