10 Must-Know Updates About Today’s COVID-19 Press Conference (30 Nov)

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The latest buzzword in Singapore doesn’t start with ‘B’, but an ‘O’ instead.

That’s right, I’m talking about the Omicron variant of COVID-19, the latest strain to have the world shutting down once again.

And because it’s such a bigly thing, you know that the task force in charge of fighting COVID-19 will have to make an appearance again.

And appear, they did.

On 30 Nov 2021, the MTF held a press conference to announce their latest measures against the big and it includes more testing, ART test kits and more.

Here are 10 must-know updates about today’s press conference you’ll need to know, or you might as well live in Australia.

1. Omicron COVID-19 in S’pore is a Matter of Time

As you’d probably know by now, COVID-19’s like that unwanted friend in your life; no matter how much you try to shut him out, he’ll appear in your life anyways.

Singapore’s already had a close brush with Omicron: a pair of passengers who had transited through our airport had been tested positive for it.

However, according to ministry task force co-chair Gan Kim Yong, it’s “only a matter of time”:

“While we have not detected this new variant among local cases yet, it is only a matter of time before it arrives in Singapore.”

This is why they’re taking “pre-emptive measures” (read: strike first).

This includes pausing the easing of social measures, among others.

2. No Home Recovery Or Quarantine For Those With / Close Contact With Omicron Variant

When it comes to Omicron, the current rules get thrown out of the window, and you’re practically shoved back in time.

For those who are diagnosed with the Omicron variant of COVID-19, you won’t be allowed to recover at home.

Instead, you’ll be recovering in the nice, tender care of the National Centre of Infectious Diseases (NCID).

A full contact tracing will also be conducted and close contacts of Omicron cases will be taken to government facilities for a 10-day quarantine.

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests will also be implemented at the start and end of the quarantine period.


3. More Stringent On-Arrival Testing Requirements

COVID-19 testing protocols will be tightened in anticipation of the arrival of Omicron variant COVID-19 cases.

Currently, travellers on Vaccinated-Travel-Lanes (VTLs) only need to take a PCR test upon arrival and wait for the results in isolation.

However, from 11:59pm on 2 Dec 2021 onwards, air travellers will need to take additional antigen rapid tests (ART); once on day 3, and another on day 7.

Both tests will be supervised and they’ll be held at a quick test centre.

4. Freezing of New VTLs

Many countries around the world are closing borders once again in anticipation of the new variant, and Singapore is no different.

According to Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, Singapore will freeze new VTL openings.


In other words, if the country you wish to fly to isn’t open yet, it probably won’t be for a while.

The status quo will be maintained until more is learnt about the Omicron variant.

5. Key Findings They Want To Know

Okay, you say. We already know it is named Omicron because it might have something to do with China, and it could’ve mutated in an individual with untreated HIV/AIDS.

What else do you want to know?

Well, according to Minister Ong, here are the key features Singapore wants to learn about Omicron:

  • is it more infectious or harmful than other variants?
  • what are its incubation and infectious period?
  • can the ART and other tests detect it?
  • will current vaccines work against the new variant?

Also, to know why viruses mutate, watch this video to the end:

YouTube video

6. How About The Land VTL?

The land VTL between Malaysia and Singapore, however, will not be subject to the additional ART requirements.

That’s because travellers using the land VTL are citizens, permanent residents or long-term pass holders of either country.

Minister Gan said that they’ve always taken a “risk management approach” to Malaysia, and so they already have measures in place to combat the Omicron variant.


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7. Suspension of Current VTL?

Singapore already has a lot of VTL arrangements in place with a lot of countries.

Which is why some of you might wonder, how about those with VTL in place? Will Singapore suspend any?

The answer to this, Mr Lawrence Wong says, depends on the Omicron variant spread in the other countries.

If they deem that there’s a high chance of Omicron variants coming in from certain countries, they might just suspend the VTL altogether.

8. All Travellers To Provide Negative PCR Test Taken 2 Days Before Arrival

These are the current border measures:

  • Travellers from Category I countries only need to take PCR tests upon arrival
  • Travellers from Category II, III and IV only need to take a PCR test near the end of their stay-home-notice period

From 3 Dec 2021 onwards, however, all travellers from Category I, II, III and IV countries will need to provide a pre-departure negative PCR test result.

The pre-departure test must be taken within two days of departure.

These enhanced measures will be in place for four weeks, and if needed, might be extended to even longer.

9. One-Time PCR Test To Be Done

A one-time PCR test will also be done for travellers who:

  • arrived in Singapore between 12 and 27 Nov 2021
  • and have travelled to countries or regions affected by the Omicron variant in the fourteen days before arriving in Singapore
  • Affected countries include:
    • Botswana
    • Eswatini
    • Lesotho
    • Mozambique
    • Namibia
    • South Africa
    • and Zimbabwe

Said travellers have already been notified about their scheduled test time and date.


10. Weekly PCR Tests For Border Frontline Workers

Remember how people had to take the PCR test every week in the past?

For a certain group of employees in Singapore, they’ll have to return to those days.

Airport and frontline workers who may come into contact with individuals from regions affected by the Omicron-variant will have to take weekly PCR tests under a Rostered Routine Testing (RRT) regime.

Aircrew with flights serving affected countries also has to be subjected to an on-arrival PCR test, as well as PCR tests on day 3 and day 7 after each flight duty.

Other aircrews and airport employees can continue with the ART regime.


However, should anyone test positive, they’ll have to undergo a PCR test.

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Feature Image: YouTube (CNA)

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