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Swab test on arrival may not pick up COVID-19

5th Aug 2020

We thank Mr Damian Ng Swee Beng and Ms Ang Chiew Leng for their letters (Have all returnees serve quarantine orders only at dedicated facilities; Shouldn’t inbound travellers be tested on arrival?, both July 29).

Since March 21, all incoming travellers have been required to serve a 14-day stay-home notice (SHN). As an additional precaution, travellers entering Singapore from June 18 are tested before the end of their SHN.

As the coronavirus has an average incubation period of five to six days, with a maximum of up to 14 days, a swab test at the point of arrival may not pick up cases during the incubation period.

Travellers under special bilateral arrangements with selected countries, such as China and Malaysia, also have separate measures to reduce the risk of imported cases based on the risk assessment of these countries.

Based on the relative risks of importation and taking into account measures other countries and regions have taken to control the infection, travellers from selected countries and regions have been allowed to serve their SHN in their own place of residence.

They are nonetheless required to remain in their place of residence at all times, and are subject to close monitoring of their whereabouts through electronic monitoring as well as physical checks.

For those serving their SHN at dedicated SHN facilities, transport is arranged to send them directly from the checkpoints to the facilities on arrival. They also undergo testing at the facility.

Those serving their SHN in their own place of residence are advised to use only their own private transport or a pre-booked taxi via dedicated taxi hotlines provided to travel to the designated testing site and back immediately.

The Multi-Ministry Taskforce continues to monitor the global situation and will update the border measures to manage the risks of importation and community transmission.

Lim Siok Peng
Director, Corporate Communications
Ministry of Health

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