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Most migrant workers who have recovered from Covid-19 exempted from routine testing

SINGAPORE — Migrant workers who have recovered from Covid-19 infections picked up from April 16 onwards have been exempted from routine testing since Wednesday (Nov 4), said the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

Foreign workers staying at the S11 Dormitory in Punggol.

Foreign workers staying at the S11 Dormitory in Punggol.

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SINGAPORE — Migrant workers who have recovered from Covid-19 infections picked up from April 16 onwards have been exempted from routine testing since Wednesday (Nov 4), said the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Ministry of Manpower (MOM). 

Recovered workers within 180 days of infection — instead of 150 days previously — also need not be quarantined if they are identified as close contacts of Covid-19 cases.

However, workers who had been infected before April 16 will still have to undergo monitoring tests. 

The ministries said in a statement on Friday that in consultation with infectious disease specialists, they have reviewed the latest scientific evidence and found that the vast majority of a cohort of recovered workers continue to have antibodies, including neutralising antibodies, 180 days after contracting the illness. 

“This suggests that these workers are at low risk of developing re-infection,” the ministries said, noting that there have also been no cases of re-infection in Singapore to date.

The exemption of recovered workers from routine rostered testing (RRT) is “in view of the low risk of re-infection”, which means the workers are unlikely to benefit from it. 

The ministries added that they will continue to review the scientific evidence, before deciding when workers should be put back on the RRT regime. 

For workers who have never been infected with Covid-19, there is no change to the RRT policy. 

“This approach allows us to focus our efforts on workers who have never been infected as they are at greater risk,” the ministries added. 

However, all recovered workers past 90 days from the onset of Covid-19 but who present symptoms suggestive of acute respiratory illness will continue to be tested for Covid-19. 

This is part of the ministries’ “multi-layered strategy to manage risk of transmission”. 

“This will allow us to detect any potential re-infections and enable swift and decisive measures to prevent further spread of Covid-19.”

Workers who had been infected with Covid-19 before April 16 this year will continue to undergo monitoring tests at regular intervals. This includes polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and serology tests.

This group is identified as among the earliest cohort of workers here to have recovered from the infection, and so their antibodies are likely to be the first to fade, the ministries said. 

“If we detect that their antibodies are starting to fade, or if there is evidence of re-infection of recovered workers, we may resume RRT of recovered workers earlier,” they added. 

“MOH and MOM will continue to review the latest scientific evidence relevant to these measures and revise our policies accordingly.” 

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Covid-19 testing Migrant Workers

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