Covid-19 rapid test being piloted for 1,000 foreign workers in Singapore dorms

Foreign workers undergoing the antigen rapid test. — Singapore Ministry of Manpower pic via TODAY
Foreign workers undergoing the antigen rapid test. — Singapore Ministry of Manpower pic via TODAY

SINGAPORE, Oct 26 — The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the Ministry of Health (MOH) have been piloting the use of antigen rapid tests for foreign workers staying in dormitories, the authorities said yesterday.

These tests can return results within half an hour, as opposed to the current polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests which may take several days to process and involve more manpower and logistics.

This pilot, which began on October 18, involves 1,000 migrant workers residing at SCM Tuas Lodge dormitory. It will run for four weeks.

Under the rostered routine testing of migrant workers, they are tested every 14 days using the PCR test. The antigen rapid test will be used as an additional test on the seventh day to complement the PCR test on the 14th day, which means the workers are tested every seven days.

Currently, the PCR test is the main test used in Singapore to confirm Covid-19 cases.

MOH had announced on Oct ober20 that the antigen rapid tests will be piloted at various events such as wedding receptions, live performances and sports events, from mid-October to December this year. This is so that Singapore can move to resume more social and economic activities amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

“The benefit of the antigen rapid test is that results can be obtained within half an hour even though it is less accurate than PCR tests, which take at least a day for results to be returned,” the authorities said yesterday.

“Migrant workers who test positive can be isolated immediately for a confirmatory PCR test. This quick action will reduce the risk of infection transmission to fellow residents.

“Fewer numbers of close contacts will need to be quarantined, thus minimising work disruptions for workers and employers.”

The Assurance, Care and Engagement (Ace) Group, in consultation with MOH, will evaluate the effectiveness of the antigen rapid test pilot and assess its suitability to be incorporated into the workers’ rostered routine testing, the ministries said.

The Ace Group is an MOM division that was launched in August to support migrant workers and dormitory operations. — TODAY

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