Forum: Roll out Covid-19 screening to other at-risk groups

Members from the community arriving at the Bukit Gombak Sports Hall for their swab test on June 9, 2020. PHOTO: ST FILE

One of Singapore's key strategies against the coronavirus is mass screening of selected groups. It is heartening to note that Singapore has done the most Covid-19 testing in Asean.

This enables early detection as well as ring-fencing of cases before they infect others.

It is therefore important to go beyond healthcare and migrant workers in dormitories to other at-risk groups in the community.

Now that mass screening of healthcare workers and migrant workers in dormitories is over, we need to test other migrant workers living outside dormitories (including foreign domestic workers) and also seniors in the community.

There may be other at-risk groups who may be added to this list.

Seniors in the community, due to their age and comorbidities, are a priority high-risk group who would benefit from testing.

We should go beyond the few regional screening centres that have been set up for this purpose. Testing can be done in community centres/clubs to make it convenient for the population.

Moreover, it can be done with the use of mobile teams located at convenient points in the community, such as residents' committee centres.

As we anticipate that the coronavirus will be around for a while - at least another one to two years - we need to think of ways to deploy people in the community to test and educate people on Covid-19.

In the longer term, we can use general practitioner clinics as testing facilities when border controls are relaxed and residents need coronavirus testing before they travel overseas.

We should not allow another circuit breaker to be imposed. It would only dampen our spirits and hit the economy.

Besides efforts to revive the economy, we should also scale up measures such as mass testing of at-risk groups in the community.

K. Thomas Abraham (Dr)

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 09, 2020, with the headline Forum: Roll out Covid-19 screening to other at-risk groups. Subscribe