SINGAPORE, Sept 17 — People who have a positive antigen rapid test result and are able to self-isolate are urged to stay home for at least 72 hours, or three days, so that they can safely recover during that period and monitor their own health.

This will also ensure that those who test positive for Covid-19 avoid potentially spreading the infection to others, Associate Professor Kenneth Mak said. The director of medical services at the Ministry of Health (MOH) was speaking at a briefing with the media today.

He added that rushing to a hospital emergency department may also expose individuals to more risk as there could be other infected people at the hospital. 

To help those issued with health risk warnings or alerts with self-testing, 100 vending machines dispensing antigen rapid test kits will be deployed at 56 locations across Singapore from Saturday.

The vending machines will be accessible round the clock. Individuals may scan their Singapore-issued identity card, such as their National Registration Identity Card, to obtain a pack of three antigen rapid test kits from the machines.

With this roll-out, it means that people who have been prompted by MOH to get tested can do so “any time of the day”, Assoc Prof Mak added.

In addition, about 90 per cent of households are due to receive antigen rapid test packs by next Monday as part of a national distribution programme. All primary school pupils will be given these test kits from Monday.

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said at the same briefing: “I think using (the test kits) will be a new habit in the new normal.

“The antigen rapid test is not as accurate as the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test but it can help us quickly pick up a case and prevent the onward transmission of the virus.” 

A health risk warning is issued to those who have been in close proximity with a person infected with Covid-19 for an extended period or have been identified as a close contact of the person.

A health risk alert is issued to those whose SafeEntry contact-tracing records in the past two weeks overlap with those of a Covid-19 case.

Stop social activities

Assoc Prof Mak urged those who have no symptoms but have a positive test result after doing the antigen rapid test to not continue with their work or social activities.

“What is important is that you must isolate yourself from others. 

“At this time, this is the socially responsible thing to do in the event that you’re really infected — to protect others from being infected themselves.”

He added that there was no need to rush to a hospital’s emergency department to get tested.

Those who are concerned may go to a Swab and Send Home clinic where a general practitioner will assess them further and decide on whether a PCR test is necessary.

In a press release on Friday, MOH said that individuals who receive a health risk warning notification via SMS must get a PCR test at a Swab and Send Home clinic or private practitioner and self-isolate until they receive a negative result from their first PCR test.

They will also be required to perform self-administered antigen rapid tests on the third, fifth and seventh day from the day of last exposure to the Covid-19 case with whom they were in close contact, followed by another exit PCR test on or after the eighth day at a Swab and Send Home clinic or private practitioner.

The health risk warning period will end on the 10th day of exposure to a Covid-19 case if the person complies with this.

The government will bear the cost of the swab tests, MOH said.

From Saturday onwards, individuals who are informed of their health risk warning or health risk alert status by MOH through SMS will also receive instructions on the frequent testing regime that they must follow. 

They can scan their identity card to collect a pack of three antigen rapid test kits at a nearby vending machine, and use these kits to test themselves and fulfil the requirements for their health risk warning.

All those who receive a health risk alert SMS notification from Saturday onwards should perform a self-administered antigen rapid test on the first, third and fifth day from the day of last exposure to the Covid-19 case with whom they were potentially in close contact, and monitor their health until the 10th day of exposure.

“All who have been issued a health risk warning or a health risk alert can use their government-distributed kits to perform the required self-administered antigen rapid tests,” MOH added.

“We urge all on health risk alert to exercise social responsibility and limit their interactions with other persons during that period.” — TODAY