COVID-19: People strongly encouraged to self-test regularly as a matter of 'social responsibility', says Lawrence Wong
SINGAPORE: Everyone, including fully vaccinated individuals, should self-test regularly with antigen rapid test (ART) kits as a matter of “social responsibility”, said co-chair of the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force Lawrence Wong on Friday (Sep 3).
This is especially so if they are participating in higher-risk activities or attending large-scale events.
“We have already reached very high levels of vaccination, we are one of the foremost countries in terms of vaccination, we should now aspire to be a nation of testing, where testing becomes a way of life,” said Mr Wong, who is also finance minister.
He added: "Regular testing should not be confined to persons working in ... higher risk settings. In fact, we want to strongly encourage everyone, whether you're vaccinated or not, to self-test regularly with antigen rapid test kits as a matter of social responsibility."
This is why the Government decided to distribute ART test kits to every household, he added.
The kits are being issued to households between Aug 28 and Sep 27, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) in a separate press release, adding that the Health Sciences Authority has approved six ART self-test kits that are widely available at major retailers and e-commerce platforms.
The Government is “actively reviewing” new kits for sale and will continue to make such self-test kits more readily available, said the minister.
To supplement regular self-testing, members of the public can now make appointments for a self-paid fast and easy test at 20 quick test centers from Oct 1.
“These centres were set up previously to support businesses and workers who needed supervised self-swab as part of the mandated requirements,” said Mr Wong.
“But we will open it up for members of the public, if they wish to take a test, and we are studying the setting up of more such testing sites across the island so that it will be easier for people to get themselves tested regularly.”
Individuals who test positive through these tests should visit a Swab-and-Send-Home Clinic for a Government-funded confirmatory PCR test to confirm their infection status, said MOH.
Those who are symptomatic should visit a doctor immediately instead of self-test or booking a test at the clinics.
MOH also added in its release that people, including fully vaccinated individuals, who participate in higher-risk activities or attend large-scale events are "strongly encouraged" to self-test regularly with ART kits.
EMPLOYERS SHOULD MAKE TESTING PART OF NEW WORKPLACE NORM
Employers are also encouraged to make regular testing part of the new norm at workplaces, said the minister.
This will go beyond the 14-day regular rostered testing for workers in higher risk settings and the “vaccinate or regular test regime”.
The "vaccinate or regular test" regime will be introduced for people working in the healthcare sector, eldercare sector and settings with children 12 years and below.
The tripartite partners will discuss further guidelines to promote the more pervasive use of ARTs at workplaces and as a key element of business continuity plans, he said.
“This is moving beyond all of these mandated testing requirements towards making testing a new norm and making testing more pervasive.”
Watch the full news conference and Q&A session with journalists: