Saturday, 7 August 2021

Singapore's 4-stage roadmap to a COVID-19 Resilient Nation: Phase 2 Heightened Alert restrictions relaxed from 10 August 2021 as vaccination rate rises

4-stage transition towards an endemic COVID-19 world are Preparatory Stage, Transition Stage A, Transition Stage B and COVID-19-Resilient Nation

Dining-in to resume for fully vaccinated people in groups of 5 from 10 August 2021

Vaccination-differentiated measures will be introduced for higher-risk settings

Higher capacity limit for worship services, cinemas, conferences

Fully vaccinated travellers from 8 more countries can serve Stay-Home Notice at home from 20 August, 2359hrs

Work pass holders, dependants from higher-risk places can enter Singapore from 10 August if fully vaccinated

Those who opt for Sinovac and jabs under WHO emergency use listing to be considered fully vaccinated

Workers in healthcare, F&B, public sector must be vaccinated or do COVID-19 self-tests from 1 October

Singapore must be prepared for more COVID-19 infections, deaths as economy opens up

COVID-19 restrictions relaxed from 10 August, dine-in to be allowed
Singapore takes first steps in four-stage road map to a new normal of living with the virus
Differentiated COVID-19 rules for vaccinated, unvaccinated people
By Linette Lai, Political Correspondent, The Straits Times, 7 Aug 2021

From next Tuesday, fully vaccinated people will be able to dine in at eateries in groups of up to five, as part of the first steps in Singapore's four-stage road map to a new normal of living with Covid-19.

Those who are not vaccinated but have valid negative pre-event test results will be able to join them, as will people who have recovered from Covid-19.

The maximum group size for social gatherings will also go up from two to five, with households allowed to receive up to five distinct guests each day.

In addition, fully vaccinated people will be allowed to take part in large events and activities where masks are removed, such as indoor sports.

As a special concession, everyone will be able to have a meal at hawker centres and coffee shops regardless of vaccination status, as these are generally open, naturally ventilated spaces. However, they may only do so in groups of no larger than two.

Singapore's high vaccination rate has enabled the country to ease current restrictions and start moving towards becoming a "Covid-resilient nation", said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, noting that more than 70 per cent of the population would be expected to have received both vaccine doses by National Day.

As at Thursday, nearly eight in 10 people had received at least one jab, with two-thirds having completed the full two-dose regimen.

At that point, companies will be allowed to have more staff return to the office, capped at 50 per cent of the total number who are able to work from home.

With more of the population vaccinated, the multi-ministry task force handling the pandemic will, from next Tuesday, also consider anyone who has taken vaccines listed on the World Health Organisation's (WHO) Emergency Use Listing to be eligible for differentiated safe management measures.

The list includes the Sinovac, Sinopharm and the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines.

This easing of measures, termed the preparatory stage of the Republic's transition, is likely to last until early September. By then, 80 per cent of the population are expected to have received both vaccine doses, allowing the country to move to the next step - transition stage A.

This is when the economy will be further opened up, with more social activities and even travel able to take place. But in doing so, Singaporeans must be mentally prepared for the number of cases and deaths to rise, Mr Ong said.

The third step is called transition stage B, and will be marked by further economic reopening until Singapore reaches its goal of becoming a Covid-resilient nation.

The task force outlined this road map yesterday at a press conference, and gave an update on Singapore's current Covid-19 situation and the impact of measures to slow down virus transmission in the community. It is co-chaired by Mr Ong, Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong and Finance Minister Lawrence Wong.

When large Covid-19 clusters emerged in the middle of last month, Singapore's nationwide vaccination rate was only slightly over 40 per cent, Mr Ong said.

This was why the country had to tighten restrictions and revert to phase two (heightened alert).

"As a result, we prevented a possible uncontrollable rise in infections, severe illnesses and deaths," the minister said, recalling his fear that severe cases requiring intensive care would multiply exponentially.

"We managed to avert that scary scenario," he added, highlighting several positive signs in Singapore's current coronavirus situation. For instance, the number of new daily infections has remained stable, with more infected individuals isolated before they were confirmed to have the virus.

But Mr Gan sounded a word of caution. Around the world, Covid-19 cases continue to increase and a new viral variant may emerge, he said.

"If we assess that the healthcare system may be under stress, we may then need to slow down the pace of our opening."

Singapore's four-stage reopening
The Straits Times, 7 Aug 2021


• Starts on Aug 10

• Travel restrictions to be eased, including resuming entry approvals for fully vaccinated work pass holders and dependants

• Changes in healthcare protocols, including admitting more infected patients to community care facilities


• Expected to start in early September

• Further economic reopening with increased size limits for events and less strict border controls

• Wastewater testing to be expanded for early detection of virus clusters


• Further economic reopening, although differentiated rules based on vaccination status likely to remain


• The end goal and "new normal" for Singapore

COVID-19 infections, deaths will rise as economy opens up
Singaporeans must be psychologically prepared for this and vaccination is critical, says Health Minister Ong Ye Kung
By Linette Lai, Political Correspondent, The Straits Times, 7 Aug 2021

More people will come down with Covid-19 as Singapore opens up its economy and moves towards treating the virus as endemic, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung yesterday.

This means the number of people who become severely ill will go up - especially among the unvaccinated - and the death toll will rise.

Singaporeans must be "psychologically prepared" for this eventuality, even as it embarks on its four-stage plan to reach a new normal, Mr Ong said. "But we can do our best to minimise the incidence of severe illnesses and deaths... It is therefore very important that we continue to vaccinate as many people as possible."

The country will also continue differentiating people by vaccination status, in an effort to protect the unvaccinated and limit their exposure to the virus, he said.

Starting from Tuesday, Singapore will embark on the first stage of this four-step reopening, dubbed the preparatory stage.

This phase will see some easing of travel restrictions, with Singapore resuming entry approvals for fully vaccinated work pass holders and their dependants.

Subsequently, fully vaccinated travellers from lower-risk countries will be able to serve their stay-home notice (SHN) at home or other suitable accommodation, rather than at dedicated facilities.

The Transport Ministry is also working on plans to open up "vaccinated travel lanes" which would allow for people to travel between Singapore and selected countries without having to serve SHN.

The SHN requirement would be replaced by frequent testing, Mr Ong said.

"Our companies cannot grow if businessmen and managers cannot travel overseas to meet clients and partners. Multinational companies will find it hard to invest here if their people are not able to travel in and out of Singapore," he observed. "And if this continues, our ability to create jobs, earn a living will be seriously affected."

The preparatory stage is expected to last about a month, until early next month. By this time, about 80 per cent of the population should have received both vaccine doses, said Finance Minister Lawrence Wong.

Mr Wong, along with Mr Ong and Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong, co-chairs the multi-ministry task force handling the pandemic.

Singapore will then move to transition stage A. But this is premised on a high vaccination rate and stable overall situation, with no surges that threaten to overwhelm the healthcare system, Mr Wong said. "Can we tell you now that this will never happen? Unfortunately, we can't. It's impossible," he told reporters at a virtual press conference yesterday.

"So that's why we are taking this controlled, step-by-step way of reopening. Each step we make, we watch the situation, we monitor, and if things are under control, if we do not end up with a situation where our healthcare system is overwhelmed, then we are prepared to take the next step."

In transition stage A, Singapore will further increase the permitted size of events and further ease border controls.

The country will continue to have a strong system of surveillance testing for travellers, and expand wastewater testing to get early warning of clusters in dormitories and housing estates.

People should also get used to rostered routine testing to slow down virus transmission, Mr Ong said.

If all goes well, Singapore will be able to move to the third stage, called transition stage B, and eventually arrive at its final goal of being a Covid-resilient nation.

"The transition road map will therefore be a very careful balance between lives and livelihoods," Mr Ong said. "Ours will be a step-by-step approach, feeling our way forward, making judgment calls along the way, instead of one big bang where all restrictions are lifted all at once."

This process will involve testing, as well as differentiated rules based on an individual's vaccination status. Other safe management measures, such as mask-wearing, are also likely to remain "for quite some time", Mr Ong said.

Those who opt for Sinovac and jabs under WHO emergency use listing to be considered fully vaccinated
They will be eligible for vaccination-differentiated measures from next Tuesday
By Clara Chong, The Straits Times, 7 Aug 2021

Those who have received the Sinovac, Sinopharm, Johnson & Johnson, Covishield or AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines will be eligible for vaccination-differentiated safe management measures from next Tuesday.

Individuals are considered to be fully vaccinated two weeks after they have received the full regimen of Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty, Moderna, or any vaccine in the World Health Organisation's (WHO) emergency use listing (EUL), Health Minister Ong Ye Kung announced yesterday at a virtual press conference.

Other than the Pfizer and Moderna jabs, there are currently five additional vaccines approved under the EUL - AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Sinopharm, Sinovac and Covishield.

So far, only the two highly effective mRNA vaccines - Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty - used in Singapore's national vaccination programme are counted towards the national statistics and eligible for concessions on testing and safe management measures.

This is because the effectiveness of different vaccines varies. So at the initial stage, when most of the population was unvaccinated, it was important to get people inoculated with the most effective vaccines, Mr Ong said.

However, with Singapore's vaccination coverage now at around 70 per cent, the Republic is collectively more resilient.

"What is important now is the difference between those who are vaccinated and not vaccinated, and less so between different vaccines... so MOH (Ministry of Health) will recognise all Covid-19 vaccines in the WHO EUL," Mr Ong said.

A more inclusive approach can now be taken in recognising other vaccines beyond the two mRNA ones, he said.

"WHO is a widely accepted reference organisation. It sets a 50 per cent vaccine effectiveness threshold for listing in the EUL, so there is some assurance of a minimum and verified standard."

To qualify for EUL status, vaccine manufacturers must submit their clinical trial data transparently for independent assessment.

Asked if vaccines on the WHO list would be eligible for the Vaccine Injury Financial Assistance Programme (VIFAP), Mr Ong said they would not. The programme provides financial assistance to those who have serious side effects related to Covid-19 vaccines.

Only the two currently approved mRNA vaccines under the national vaccination programme are eligible, he said.

"So there is a differentiation between concession in terms of social safe management measures versus whether it's part of our national vaccination programme and, hence, covered by VIFAP."

Workers in healthcare, F&B, public sector must be vaccinated or undergo an antigen rapid test (ART) twice a week from 1 October 2021
By Kok Yufeng, The Straits Times, 7 Aug 2021

From Oct 1, front-line workers in selected high-risk sectors - including healthcare, food and beverage (F&B), and the public service - will need to be vaccinated against Covid-19, or undergo an antigen rapid test (ART) twice a week.

These tests will be subsidised only if the unvaccinated worker is medically ineligible for Covid-19 vaccines.

This is part of a new "vaccinate or regular test" regimen, which the Ministry of Health (MOH) said has three aims - to expand Singapore's vaccine coverage even further, to pick up infections early, and to mitigate the risk of transmission.

MOH said yesterday that the new regimen will be introduced in three work settings.

The first is in the healthcare and eldercare sectors, as well as settings with children aged 12 and below. This is to protect vulnerable segments of the population.

The second is in sectors that involve customer interactions in higher-risk, mask-off settings, such as food and beverage establishments, gyms and fitness studios, and personal care services.

It also includes those working at Singapore's borders or on the Covid-19 front line.

The third is in the public service, which will introduce the new requirement for all public officers, including those in uniformed services. More than 94 per cent of public service officers are currently vaccinated.

The new rule will take effect from Oct 1 to give time for workers in these sectors to get their Covid-19 jabs, said MOH.

After that, those who are unvaccinated will have to go through ART testing twice a week.

More details will be announced by the ministries overseeing the sectors.

Said MOH: "We strongly encourage all employers to facilitate vaccination for your employees.

"We will continue to closely monitor our vaccination rates and review the need to include other sectors in the future."

Currently, front-line workers such as in-patient healthcare staff, airport workers and border officers need to undergo rostered routine testing.

Since July 15, workers at dine-in F&B establishments, businesses offering personal care services, and gyms and fitness studios have been required to conduct Covid-19 self-testing once every two weeks.

It is not clear if the new regimen will replace or be in addition to the existing requirements for them.

At a press conference yesterday, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said it is important for workers to be vaccinated as Singapore eases restrictions for vaccinated people to engage in more activities across a range of different settings.

The regular tests in lieu of vaccination will protect workers, their colleagues and the people they serve, said Mr Wong, who is co-chair of the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19.

In a separate statement, the Manpower Ministry, National Trades Union Congress and Singapore National Employers Federation said they will review the existing advisory on Covid-19 vaccination in employment settings that was issued last month, with a view to driving up vaccination rates.

The advisory currently states that employers should not make vaccination mandatory for staff, but those in higher-risk settings may make vaccination a requirement as part of company policy.

Companies in higher-risk settings may impose a vaccination requirement at the point of recruitment or when advertising for new hires, but they cannot fire existing staff for declining vaccination.

They may also ask their workers for their vaccination status for purposes of business continuity planning, but staff who decline vaccination should not be penalised.

The tripartite partners aim to issue the updated advisory by the middle of this month.

3 key changes to healthcare protocols as nation moves to living with COVID-19
By Timothy Goh, The Straits Times, 7 Aug 2021

As Singapore moves into a new stage of living with Covid-19, changes will be made to the nation's healthcare protocols.

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said yesterday that there will be three main changes - increasing the number of community care facilities (CCFs) and adjustments to discharge protocols and the stay-home-notice (SHN) scheme.

These will begin from Tuesday as the nation shifts to a preparatory stage in its transition to living with the coronavirus, following rising vaccination rates here, he said at a press conference held by the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19.

On expanding the number of community care facilities, Mr Ong said: "As far as possible, we will admit Covid-19 patients into CCFs instead of hospitals. After all, 97.5 per cent of infected individuals have mild or no symptoms. Therefore, CCFs will be a good site for them to recover."

He noted that currently, about 40 per cent of infected individuals are admitted to community care facilities. This proportion is expected to increase as more people get fully vaccinated.

So the Ministry of Health is in discussions with a few facilities to see if parts of them can be converted into community care facilities.

These include Connect@ Changi, a facility opened earlier this year to allow international business travellers to stay and conduct meetings, which has 1,300 rooms.

Discharge protocols will also be adjusted.

Patients who have been fully vaccinated with messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines will be allowed to be discharged from isolation after 10 days if their test shows that they are Covid-19 negative or have very low viral loads.

"This is because of the strong evidence showing that individuals vaccinated with mRNA vaccines present low viral loads even within 10 days from the onset of the illness," said Mr Ong.

On adjustments to the stay-home-notice scheme, he noted that currently, the great majority of travellers to Singapore still have to serve SHN.

Since the situation in many countries is improving and their populations have been highly vaccinated, the home SHN scheme will be expanded for more countries, said Mr Ong.

These include lower-risk countries such as Germany, Switzerland, Italy, South Korea and Australia. Travellers from these places can apply to serve their SHN at home, and conduct daily self-tests for the coronavirus.

Mr Ong said that as vaccination rates rise in other countries, the scheme could be expanded further.

Chances of vaccinated person being very ill from virus up to 10 times less
Some fully dosed get very ill, but it's matter of proportion as more get jabbed: Ong Ye Kung
By Jolene Ang, The Straits Times, 7 Aug 2021

The chances of a vaccinated individual falling severely ill from Covid-19 are up to 10 times less than one who is not vaccinated, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said yesterday.

While a number of fully vaccinated people have become seriously ill, it should also be viewed as a matter of proportion as more people are vaccinated, he said.

"If, let's say, a hundred per cent of Singapore's population have been fully vaccinated, then whoever is in the ICU (intensive care unit) - whoever is severely ill - will be a fully-vaccinated person. But that does not mean that vaccination did not work."

He was speaking at a press conference held yesterday by the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19. Mr Ong is a co-chair of the task force.

His comments followed Singapore's director of medical services Kenneth Mak's breakdown of the cases who were seriously ill.

Of the 577 Covid-19 cases admitted to hospitals with acute infections as at Thursday, eight were critically ill in the ICU.

Of the eight cases, six were unvaccinated, or partially vaccinated and had not obtained adequate immune protection, Associate Professor Mak said during the press conference.

Two were fully vaccinated.

The eight ranged in age from 38 to 90.

Prof Mak said: "Each case had multiple medical conditions which made them further vulnerable to developing a severe infection.

"These included conditions like diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, heart disease, and sepsis that was secondary to a bacterial infection."

He said that the oldest patient had been a household contact of other Covid-19 cases, noting that it is easy for transmission to occur between family members in a household setting.

There are another 40 patients occupying isolation beds in the general wards of hospitals who require oxygen supplementation.

Of these, 35 are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, and five are fully vaccinated.

They range in age between 49 and 75.

Prof Mak said that these people also have multiple medical conditions, similar to those in the ICU, which made them more vulnerable to having severe infections.

He noted that reviewing Singapore's processes and management of Covid-19 cases is to ensure that there are adequate facilities and healthcare resources to treat those who are more seriously ill.

There are currently more than 800 isolation and general ward beds available for Covid-19 patients, and more than 100 ICU beds for critically ill cases.

"At this time, there is adequate hospital capacity to look after both adult and paediatric Covid-19 cases...

"We are ready to mobilise and make available more isolation ICU beds, if needed," he said.

Vaccinated work pass holders, dependants from higher-risk places can enter Singapore
They must have full dosage of any COVID-19 vaccine on WHO list
By Rei Kurohi, The Straits Times, 7 Aug 2021

Work pass holders and their dependants from higher-risk countries or regions will be allowed to enter Singapore from Tuesday, provided they are fully vaccinated before arrival.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) announced yesterday that it will resume issuing entry approvals for this group in a safe and calibrated manner.

Higher-risk places currently include all countries and regions other than New Zealand, Brunei, mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

A traveller will be considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the full dosage of any Covid-19 vaccine under the World Health Organisation's Emergency Use Listing.

These include the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty and Moderna mRNA vaccines, as well as the vaccines made by Sinovac, Sinopharm, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, and the Serum Institute of India's Covishield vaccine.

The work pass holders and their dependants who are approved for entry will need to show documentary proof of their full vaccination status to the airlines before boarding and at the checkpoint upon arrival in Singapore.

Those who are unable to produce the necessary documentation will be denied boarding and entry.

All pass holders and their dependants will also be subject to the prevailing health protocols in Singapore, said MOM.

Individuals who have received their vaccinations overseas must update their vaccination records in the National Immunisation Registry within two weeks of completing their stay-home notice in Singapore.

They will need to show proof of their overseas vaccination and a positive serology test result taken at one of the Ministry of Health's designated private healthcare providers.

Serology tests check for the presence of antibodies, which indicate that the person has Covid-19 immunity from a past infection or vaccination.

Those who fail to produce valid vaccination documents or take the required serology test may have their work pass privileges suspended or revoked, said MOM.

Migrant domestic workers as well as S Pass and work permit holders in the construction, marine shipyard and process sectors are exempted from the vaccination requirement.

"There are ongoing industry initiatives in these sectors with tightened end-to-end safe management processes to bring these workers into Singapore safely and minimise the risk of Covid-19 importation," said MOM.

However, the ministry added that it will begin accepting new entry applications for these pass holders from higher-risk places only at a later date.

This is because rescheduling efforts are still under way for those whose entry applications were approved earlier this year, but who could not enter Singapore due to tighter restrictions in place since May.

Dependants under the age of 12 are also exempted from the vaccination requirement.

Those who are between 12 and under 18 years old can enter Singapore without proof of vaccination if they take their first shot of a vaccine used in Singapore's national vaccine programme within a month of arrival, and the second shot within a month of the first.

Work pass holders and dependants who are medically ineligible for vaccination should obtain a doctor's memo and appeal to be exempted from the requirement before applying for entry approval, said MOM.

Fully vaccinated travellers from 8 more countries can serve SHN at home from Aug 20: MOH
By Rei Kurohi, The Straits Times, 7 Aug 2021

Fully vaccinated travellers from Australia, Austria, Canada, Germany, Italy, Norway, South Korea and Switzerland will be allowed to serve their 14-day stay-home notice (SHN) at their own place of residence instead of a dedicated facility from 11.59pm on Aug 20.

This list will be updated from time to time depending on the public health risk assessment, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said yesterday.

The differentiated measures for vaccinated travellers are part of a review of Singapore's border restrictions in the light of a high local vaccination rate.

MOH said a traveller will be considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the full dosage of any Covid-19 vaccine under the World Health Organisation's Emergency Use Listing.

These include the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty and Moderna mRNA vaccines used in Singapore's national vaccination scheme as well as the vaccines made by Sinovac, Sinopharm, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, and the Serum Institute of India's Covishield vaccine.

To be eligible, travellers must have remained in the respective countries for the last 21 consecutive days before leaving for Singapore and must either be staying alone or with other fully vaccinated household members who are under SHN for the same duration and with the same travel history.

Singaporeans and permanent residents can apply to opt out of staying at a dedicated facility on the SafeTravel website ( three days before their scheduled arrival in Singapore. Other travellers can apply as part of their entry application process from 11.59pm on Aug 20 onwards.

All travellers must show proof of approval to serve SHN at their place of residence when they arrive in Singapore. They must remain in their place of residence at all times during the SHN period and will be required to wear an electronic monitoring device to ensure compliance.

"Action will be taken against those who breach the requirements of the SHN or make false declarations," said MOH. "Travellers will also be required to utilise specially designated transport services to and from their place of residence and bear the costs of these transport arrangements."

Currently, travellers from New Zealand, Brunei, mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan are already allowed to apply to serve SHN at their place of residence.

Those arriving from other countries or regions must serve SHN at a dedicated facility. This includes Israel, which was previously on the list but has seen an increase in cases recently.

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, one of three ministers chairing the task force on Covid-19, said during a virtual press conference yesterday that Singapore is planning to open up travel lanes with selected countries so vaccinated individuals can enter Singapore without having to serve SHN at all.

Instead, they may be asked to undergo frequent testing, he said, adding that the Ministry of Transport (MOT) will announce more details later.

He also said Singapore travellers can already go to various places without having to serve quarantine on arrival, including to the United States and parts of Europe, and it is up to Singapore to decide if it is comfortable about reciprocating the arrangement.

"The onus is on us, and so we have to assess the risk level of some of these potential partner countries," Mr Ong said.

"MOT, of course, will have to discuss operational details such as recognition of vaccination certs, which they have been doing for many months now."

Unvaccinated workers in construction sites must be clearly identified from Aug 16: BCA
By Hariz Baharudin, The Straits Times, 7 Aug 2021

People who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19 will have to wear visual identifiers when they are at construction worksites from Aug 16, as part of new measures to contain the coronavirus.

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) said on Thursday that this requirement will also apply to those who are not fully vaccinated or do not have full protection from the jabs yet.

These people will have to wear a "unique visual identifier" at all times when they are at a worksite, said BCA in a circular sent to industry associations.

The advisory did not specify what kind of identifier this would be, but some examples used by visitors or roving sub-contractors to sites include coloured vests, armbands and stickers on helmets.

Officers in charge of safety at construction sites will have to check the vaccination status of a person before he enters the worksite. They will also have to closely supervise unvaccinated individuals at all times when they are on-site, and ensure that they comply with safe management measures.

These measures come amid new Covid-19 infections among workers from construction companies, some of which have become clusters. Earlier this week, the Ministry of Health announced a cluster linked to Kian Hiap Construction.

"There have been new cases of Covid-19 infection in Singapore involving workers from the construction sector," said BCA.

"As worksites were visited by workers diagnosed with Covid-19, BCA has ordered works at these sites to stop, so that the worksites can be disinfected and the relevant contractors can review and tighten their plans for safe management measures to be implemented."

The authority urged the industry to be on high alert and extra vigilant to minimise the potential risk of the virus spreading at construction sites.

Currently, safe management officers must ensure that safe management measures are implemented at worksites, and that all people at the sites comply with them.

These officers, along with safe distancing officers, must also closely supervise any visitors or roving sub-contractors, who already have to wear unique visual identifiers throughout their visit and work only in designated zones, separate from workers.

In addition to safe management measures, companies should also consider taking further steps to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission at their worksites, said BCA.

It strongly encourages developers and contractors to pilot an antigen rapid test (ART) regimen to complement the rostered routine testing regimen that all workers in the industry currently follow.

BCA said on its website that worksites will be provided with ART kits at no cost during the pilot period, and that supervisory training in the use of ARTs is currently offered at a subsidised rate.

On July 8, BCA said it had worked with the construction sector and piloted ARTs at more than 50 worksites since May 31. A total of about 7,000 such tests have been successfully administered at these sites.

The authority on Thursday recommended that companies segregate workers residing in dormitories by the projects that they work on, and have deliveries loaded or unloaded by on-site workers and not delivery staff, where possible.

BCA also advised companies to, where feasible, plan for workers or visitors who operate for short periods at worksites, and who may visit multiple sites, to carry out their site visits and tasks outside the work hours of the main workforce.

It suggested that roving sub-contractors work in a segregated zone at least 2m apart from other segregated teams of workers on-site.

* Rate of suspected adverse events linked to COVID-19 vaccines at 0.12% after over 7.5 million jabs
Only 389 reports - or 0.005% of administered doses - classified as serious adverse events
By Tay Hong Yi, The Straits Times, 17 Aug 2021

The rate of suspected adverse events linked to the Covid-19 vaccines under the national vaccination programme stands at 0.12 per cent, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) said yesterday.

The report - the fourth safety update for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines under the national vaccination programme - this time also included the Sinovac-CoronaVac shot under the special access route.

For the national vaccination programme, a total of 7,567,466 doses have been administered, out of which 9,403 suspected adverse event reports were received.

Of these, 389 reports - or 0.005 per cent of administered doses - were classified as serious adverse events, as at July 31.

For the Sinovac vaccine, 47 reports - or 0.0451 per cent - were received for 104,061 doses, including four serious reports.

The most commonly reported adverse events for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were dizziness, shortness of breath, chest tightness or discomfort, injection site reactions such as pain and swelling, fever and allergic reactions.

HSA said the adverse events were consistent with those typically observed following any vaccination.

"These typically resolve within a few days. Among the serious adverse events reports, the most frequently reported adverse events were anaphylaxis and other severe allergic reactions."

For teenagers aged between 12 and 18, the most commonly reported symptoms were rashes, hives, swelling of the eyelids, face and lips, shortness of breath, fever, dizziness, light-headedness and fainting.

HSA added that fainting has been reported particularly in this age group, and it is generally triggered by anxiety and fear of pain during the vaccination process, rather than the vaccine itself.

The local incidence rate for such incidents in this age group is similar to overseas reports, it said.

However, rare incidences of anaphylaxis, a severe life-threatening allergic reaction, have been linked to the Covid-19 vaccines.

HSA said it is a known adverse reaction associated with vaccines in general, and the incidence rate locally is similar to those reported overseas.

It also said that rare cases of myocarditis and pericarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscles and outer lining respectively, have been reported with messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) Covid-19 vaccines in Singapore and other countries.

The Pfizer and Moderna shots are mRNA vaccines.

HSA said: "In most cases, the inflammation is mild. Myocarditis and pericarditis are not heart attacks, which are usually caused by blockage of the blood vessels that supply the heart.

"Although there is a small increased risk of myocarditis and pericarditis in the younger age groups (30 years and below), the local incidence rate remains low."

HSA, in its statement, said most cases in the younger age group have responded well to treatment and have recovered, or were discharged well from hospital.

It added: "It is important to note that heart attacks and strokes occur naturally within our population, regardless of whether or not people are vaccinated.

"The frequency of heart attacks and strokes in vaccinated persons locally is within the background incidence rates, and to date, there is no evidence that the vaccines can directly cause these events."

Cases of Bell's palsy - a condition where inflammation of the facial nerve causes facial muscle weakness - have also been observed in some vaccine recipients.

Usually, patients will recover completely even without treatment. The incidence rate is also within the background incidence.

HSA said that based on the data so far, the benefits of the Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines continue to outweigh the known risks in a pandemic.


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