As Singapore takes the next steps towards achieving COVID resilience, the Multi-Ministry Taskforce (MTF) has announced more extensive testing and contact tracing measures; as well as the introduction of the next phase of the National Vaccination Programme with the commencement of a booster programme in September 2021.

 

Expansion of testing and surveillance measures

 

Frequent testing helps in the early identification of cases and can prevent spikes in cases that could strain our healthcare system.

 

  • For individuals: All are encouraged to exercise social responsibility and self-test regularly using Antigen Rapid Test (ART) kits. This includes those who are fully-vaccinated and especially for those who are taking part in large-scale events. ART kits are being issued to every Singaporean household between 28 August to 27 September 2021. Six approved ART self-test kits are also widely available at major retailers and e-commerce platforms.1

     

  • For employers: Encouraged to make regular testing a new norm at workplaces as a key element of business continuity plans. This goes beyond the Regular Rostered Testing for higher risk settings and the Vaccinate or Regular Test regimes. The tripartite partners will discuss more about further guidelines on testing.
 

Members of the public can make an appointment for a self-paid fast and easy test (FET) at the 20 Quick Test Centres (QTCs)2 from 1 October 2021 onwards. More such testing sites will be set up across the island in the future.

 

Those who test positive through these FETs or their ART self-tests should visit a Swab-and-Send Home Clinic for a government-funded confirmatory Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test to confirm infection. The Ministry of Health (MOH) will follow-up with those who register a positive PCR test to ensure they receive the necessary medical care.

 

Booster vaccination strategy

 

MOH, with advice from the Expert Committee on COVID-19 Vaccination (EC19V), has reviewed the vaccination strategy in light of the more transmissible variants that have emerged globally. Although evidence globally and locally continues to show that vaccines are very effective in reducing severe illness and death, there is emerging data on the waning of vaccine efficacy against infection with time.

 

MOH and EC19V will commence a booster programme for two groups of individuals:

 
(A) Persons who are moderately to severely immunocompromised

 

They are recommended to receive a third dose of the same Pandemic Special Access Route (PSAR) mRNA vaccine two months after their second dose as part of their primary course of vaccination regimen. They should be referred to do so by their doctors who have the best understanding of their medical condition.

 

These include persons with the following conditions:

  • Transplant patients on medications that suppress the immune system, including solid organ and allogenic stem cell transplants
  • Cancer patients on active treatment with chemotherapy or on other therapies that suppress the immune system
  • Haematological cancers
  • Treatments for non-cancer conditions that suppress the immune system
  • End-stage kidney disease on dialysis
  • Advanced or untreated HIV

(B) Persons aged 60 years and above and residents of aged care facilities

They are recommended to receive a booster dose of PSAR mRNA vaccine from about six to nine months after having completed their primary course of vaccination regimen.

 

The first batch of seniors aged 60 years and above completed their second doses around March 2021 and therefore will be eligible for the third dose within the month of September. More details on the implementation of the booster shot will be announced later.

 


1 As of 31 August, there are 20 QTCs at Yishun Bus Interchange, Tekka Facility, Bishan Sports Hall CP, Jurong West Active Sports CP, Pasir Ris Sports Hall CP, 509 MPH Jurong West, 32 New Market Road Lvl 4, 75 Marine Drive, 325A Ang Mo Kio Ave 3 Pavilion, 2 Toa Payoh Lor 7, 528 Ang Mo Kio Ave 10 Badminton Hall, Bedok Town Square, 814 Hougang Ave 10, 506 Tampines Central 1, MOE Heritage Centre, Woodlands Temporary Bus Interchange, 84A Redhill Lane, Punggol Town Square, 321 Clementi Ave 5 and 55 Sims Drive Pavilion.


2 The list of ART self-test kits can be found at https://www.hsa.gov.sg/consumer-safety/articles/covid19_ARTselftests.

 

 

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