Common COVID-19 testing, contact tracing protocols needed before essential travel can resume: Lawrence Wong

Nicholas Yong
Assistant News Editor

SINGAPORE — Common protocols such as testing regimes and contacting tracing requirements will have to be mutually agreed upon before essential travel between Singapore and other countries can resume, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong on Thursday (28 May).

Wong, who co-chairs a multi-ministry taskforce on COVID-19, told reporters at a virtual briefing that Singapore is currently in talks with several countries where the COVID-19 situation is under control, with the goal of establishing travel bubbles and safe green lane travel arrangements. “And then essential travel can then resume step by step...particularly for businesses that are based here in Singapore where their staff and employees need to have some travel around the region.”

Wong cautioned, “It's not for mass market travel, which I think would take a lot longer to resume not just in Singapore, but also internationally.”

Asked for specific details of the common protocols that will need to be established, Wong pointed to the need for travellers to undergo polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and/or serology tests before embarking on their journey, to ascertain that they are free of infection. They may also need to undergo additional tests once they arrive in Singapore.

“And if the testing arrangements are in place, then there need not be a 14-day quarantine period, because you have the test protocols to assure you that this traveler is infection-free. So, this will be for those incoming to Singapore, it will also be those outgoing from Singapore to that particular country and reciprocal arrangements will then be made,” said Wong.

In addition, travellers will likely be required to download the TraceTogether app or to use a wearable dongle while they are in Singapore.

“We will want to ensure that there is some ability to know where they are. And then if something arises, we want to be able to do contact tracing very quickly and promptly,” explained Wong, noting that other countries may have their own contact tracing requirements.

The briefing took place on the same day that the Ministry of Health (MOH) reported a preliminary 373 new COVID-19 cases in Singapore as of Thursday noon, bringing the total to 33,249.

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