Ahead of the phased reopening of preschools from 2 June 2020, all preschools and Early Intervention staff are undergoing a one-time swab test. These tests are part of a broader suite of precautionary measures that have been progressively stepped up in preschools since January 2020. The tests commenced on 15 May 2020 and are scheduled to complete by end-May 2020.
As at 26 May 2020, over 30,000 swab tests have been conducted. So far, 12 preschool staff have tested positive.
Of the 12 positive cases identified, MOH has done an epidemiological study on the cases and found that majority are likely to be past infections as their serology tests were positive. Individuals with past infections are less likely infectious. The latest local and international clinical and scientific evidence show that COVID-19 positive patients are not likely to be infectious after Day 14 of illness and are not infectious by Day 21 of illness. These past infections indicate that there were likely some infections around the start of the Circuit Breaker. Nevertheless, we are assured that the Circuit Breaker has been effective, as the results received to date showed that almost all other preschool staff have tested negative and the number of community cases have decreased significantly since then.
While the positive cases identified so far mostly appear to be of low infection risk, we will continue to strengthen precautionary measures to limit any transmission of the virus whenever a positive case is identified in a preschool:
a. ECDA will require preschools to issue a 14-day Leave of Absence for all children and staff who were in the preschools with the affected staff.
b. MOH will conduct contact tracing and place close contacts of positive cases on Quarantine Order.
As preschools move out of the Circuit Breaker, all preschools will be required to adhere to enhanced safe management measures under “COVID-Safe ABCs” – COVID-Safe Access, COVID-Safe Behaviours, and COVID-Safe Classrooms. Under COVID-Safe Access, preschools will be strengthening measures to ensure that individuals who pose a risk to transmission are not allowed access into the preschool premises. Our heightened precautionary measures include:
Strict temperature/health checks for all staff and children at arrival and through the day. In addition to health checks for visible symptoms, preschools will explicitly ask all children, staff and visitors a series of questions during health checks. Those who are unwell will not be allowed entry and will be asked to seek immediate medical attention. Those who become unwell during the day, even if symptoms are mild, will be asked to leave to seek medical attention immediately.
b. Back to School ABCs public education
ECDA will work closely with preschools and EI centres to dedicate the first two weeks of reopening to strengthening public health awareness and building a culture of COVID-Safe habits among staff, children and their parents. There will be concerted efforts with operators during first few weeks of reopening to educate staff, children and parents to understand the importance of seeking medical help immediately even if symptoms are mild. ECDA will conduct visits to preschools to support the preschool community, provide guidance and ensure compliance on the necessary measures.
c. Stepped up surveillance
After services fully resume, a risk-based testing system to protect children and staff will be in place to test selected groups on a regular basis. Under this system, preschool staff who present with Acute Respiratory Infection (ARI) at clinics will be tested, for example. Staff and children returning from Quarantine Order or Stay-Home Notice will also have to undergo testing before returning to the preschool. All new preschool staff will also be tested.
d. Increased contract tracing ability
To enable contact tracing to be carried out quickly and effectively, all preschools have been required to use SafeEntry system to log the check-in of children, staff and visitors since 12 May 2020. To help MOH to more quickly identify potential close contacts of COVID-19 patients and reduce disease transmission, preschools are also advised to encourage all staff to download and activate the TraceTogether app.