MOH Redefines ‘Close Contact’ In 21 Jun Update

Since the start of the pandemic, Singaporeans would be familiar with terms like ‘close contact’ and ‘household contact’.

Like our safety measures, these terms need to evolve to fit the evolving Covid-19 situation too.

On Monday (21 Jun), MOH has changed the definition of ‘close contact’ to anyone who spent at least 15 minutes within 2 metres of an infected individual.

Let’s take a closer look at what the updated criteria would entail.

MOH updates definition of ‘close contact’

MOH recently updated its F&Q page on how suspected Covid-19 patients are handled.

Though most of the Q&As explain how authorities handle infected individuals, a small section at the bottom defines the term ‘close contact’.

From 21 Jun, a ‘close contact’ means anyone who has spent a prolonged period of 15 minutes or more within 2 metres of an infected individual.

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A similar update was also made on MOH’s website.

Factors considered for follow-up actions

When deciding on the appropriate follow-up actions required for close contacts, authorities will consider these factors:

  • Duration and proximity of exposure
  • Type of PPE worn
  • Setting of exposure
  • Other clinical and epidemiological factors

MOH, however, assures Singaporeans that coming into temporary contact with an infected individual, such as on the bus or in public places, carries a low-risk factor.

Previous definition required 30-minute exposure

Even though the term ‘close contact’ is frequently used in MOH’s press release, some might not know its full definition.

In the early days of the pandemic, one would have to spend a cumulative period of about 30 minutes or more with an infected person to be classified as a ‘close contact’.

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Other agencies, such as Government Technology Agency, gave a rather vague definition of what constitutes a ‘close contact’.

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Though it’s unclear why MOH redefined the term, it could be due to the prevalence of new Covid-19 variants that are highly infectious.

MOH also shared last week that the Bukit Merah View market cluster infections could have spread via queues or common surfaces.

Bukit Merah Market Infections Likely Spread Via Long Queues & Common Surfaces: MOH

Likely a measure to cope with Covid-19 infections

Given the highly infectious strains that have emerged lately, a narrower definition of the term ‘close contact’ could help us better identify infected individuals.

However, the redefining of such terms is only a temporary way of coping. Vaccination is still the way forward in the long term, preventing severe Covid-19 illnesses and allowing the virus to become endemic.

We hope everyone would get their jabs at the earliest opportunity to protect themselves and their loved ones.

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Featured image by MS News.