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Singapore reviewing complex COVID-19 protocols

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By Reuters
Singapore reviewing complex COVID-19 protocols
Singapore reviewing complex COVID-19 protocols   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021

SINGAPORE – Singapore is reviewing how to simplify its COVID-19 pandemic protocols that many in the city state find over complex, including whether to continue testing those who show no symptoms of the disease, the government said on Saturday.

The country returned to tighter measures this week following record new daily cases, although the vast majority of those infected had mild or no symptoms as Singapore has vaccinated 82% of the population.

The government has ramped up testing in recent days in a bid to ringfence cases, but experts have questioned the need for aggressive testing of asymptomatic people. Of the recent cases more than 98% have mild or no symptoms.

Several recent changes to rules regarding testing and isolation have also created confusion and frustration among locals.

“We are relooking at all our protocols and one of the areas we are looking at is how to address people who have no symptoms at all, and whether or not we need to test them,” Kenneth Mak, the health ministry’s director of medical services, told reporters.

He reiterated the government had no plans to make vaccination compulsory as shots including those from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna only have provisional approval, but added the situation will be re-evaluated if they receive full approval.

Authorities also announced a slew of changes to COVID-19 travel rules, including requiring all work and student visa holders to be fully vaccinated before arrival in the city state from next month.

Singapore will also cut the isolation period to 10 days for travelers who currently have to serve 14 days, the health ministry said in a statement.

The country, which is rolling out the third dose of vaccines for the elderly, will likely extend boosters for healthcare and frontline workers, the ministry added.

The country reported a record 2,909 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday and the health ministry estimated the daily figure may reach as many as 5,000 by around mid-October, although most of those affected would have no or mild symptoms.