Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic started, we’ve been taught that the magic number is 14.
Been to a place identified on the Ministry of Health (MOH) list of places infectious Covid-19 patients have been to? Monitor your health for the next 14 days.
Your friend, whom you’ve just makaned Ding Tai Fung with a few days ago tested positive for Covid-19? Quarantine orders for 14 days.
Travellers entering Singapore? Serve Stay-Home-Notice (SHN) for 14 days.
Then, on 2 Aug, it was announced that Malaysians who come into Singapore under the current arrangements only need to serve 7 days SHN.
What’s with the special preference?!
If you have the question above running through your mind, you’re not the only one.
A reporter posed the same question to the task force during their press conference and got a lengthy answer that took more than 3 minutes to complete, together with many erms and ahs.
How The Current SHN Guidelines Came About
According to Mr Kenneth Mak, the director of medical services in MOH, the task force implemented the 14-day guideline for most measures because that was the maximum incubation period for Covid-19 before symptoms started showing.
Then, they realised asymptomatic cases, where Covid-19 carriers can show little to no symptoms but still spread the virus around, exists.
They implemented a testing regime so that even if the people coming in are asymptomatic Covid-19 cases, they can still be detected.
Malaysia’s Special SHN Period
Mr Mak went on to explain that based on their data about incoming travellers with Covid-19, a majority of the cases show their symptoms within 5 to 6 days.
So with seven days and maintaining the testing regime for incoming travellers, the task force is reasonably confident that the measure is still sufficient for stopping Covid-19 cases at the borders.
But, he stresses, this isn’t for all countries.
Based on the risk assessment that the taskforce has made, they felt that it’s reasonable to apply this to Malaysia as they have a lower prevalence of Covid-19 within their country.
In the month of August (1 to 6 Aug), Malaysia reported 62 new Covid-19 cases.
Other than the risk profile of the source, another factor that the task force is looking at is what mitigating measures the source of travellers (in this case, Malaysia) is putting in.
Previously, Malaysia said it’ll go back into lockdown if the number of reported Covid-19 cases per day ever go into the three-digits.
A Trial Run?
If you remember, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is now desperate to get more people into Singapore, whether it be more business travellers or “small, tightly-controlled groups of leisure travellers”.
In the task force conference, both Mr Mak and Mr Gan Kim Yong pointed out that they are taking a risk-management approach to this matter.
So if this thingy with Malaysia goes well, we might just see SHN reduced for countries with “a lower prevalence of Covid-19” compared to Singapore.
Although it must be said that with dormitories getting cleared on schedule, the task force is expecting numbers to drop drastically towards the end of the month.
Countries with a higher risk profile (read: the US) will have the SHN period remain at 14 days.
You can watch the task force’s answer in full below: