Knowledge Highlights 20 December 2021

On 6 December 2021, the Ministry of Manpower (“MOM”), the Ministry of Health, the National Trades Union Congress and the Singapore National Employers Federation updated the “Advisory on work and leave arrangements for employees who test positive on the Covid-19 Antigen Rapid Test (ART) but are physically well”. Details are set out below.

Background

The Multi-Ministry Taskforce announced on 17 September 2021 a revised approach of managing individuals who test positive on the Covid-19 Antigen Rapid Test (“ART”) but are physically well (i.e. no evident symptoms like fever, cough, or runny nose). Such individuals are advised to self-isolate to monitor their health, instead of going to the nearest General Practitioner clinic or hospital, which may risk exposure to other infections. This is a risk-calibrated approach that will allow Singapore to focus the use of primary care and other healthcare resources on Covid-19 patients at higher risk of falling severely ill.

Self-isolation

Employees who test ART-positive but physically well are advised to self-isolate at home for 72 hours. There is no need for these employees to undergo a confirmatory Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test after getting the first positive ART result.

After 72 hours of self-isolation, the employee should repeat the ART. If the result is negative, the employee may return to work and daily activities. However, if the result is positive, the employee should continue to self-isolate, and take another ART every 24 hours until the employee receives a negative ART result.

Work and leave arrangements

Employees should immediately inform their employer when they test positive on ART and begin their self-isolation at home. These employees should not report to the workplace and should be allowed to work from home if they are able to do so. If working from home is not possible, employers should treat the period of absence as paid sick leave (either paid outpatient sick leave or paid hospitalisation leave) without requiring a medical certificate. Employees should not be asked to take no-pay leave for the period of self-isolation. Employees may return to the workplace when they get a negative ART result after 72 hours.

Employees, who are household members or close workplace contacts of ART-positive individuals, are advised to minimise contact with the affected individual, monitor their health and obtain a negative ART result for the next seven days before leaving home. Those who test ART-positive but are physically well should follow the protocol above.

It was previously stated in the advisory issued on 25 September 2021 that there were no movement restrictions for employees who were household members of ART-positive individuals or who were workplace close contacts of the ART-positive employee, so long as their ART self-test results were negative. They were to monitor their health for 10 days and do regular ART self-test.

Reference materials

The following materials are available on the MOM website www.mom.gov.sg:

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