Singapore to send test kits, machines that screen for coronavirus to China, says Heng Swee Keat

Lab technicians testing for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) pathogens at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases. Singapore is sending test kits that can conduct an initial 10,000 tests as well as three PCR machines to China. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Singapore is sending test kits that can conduct 10,000 tests as well as three polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machines that screen people for the coronavirus to China, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Friday (Feb 7).

The Republic's experts will also be exchanging views with their counterparts in China, he added in a Facebook post.

He said it is important for both countries - which have a longstanding special relationship - to work together to fight the coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, as it is a global public health challenge.

Singapore will continue to work closely with China and the international community in the fight, including preventing its further spread and developing better medical testing.

The three machines Singapore is sending to China are for PCR, which is used in molecular biology to make several copies of a specific DNA segment. More help is on the way.

"We will be providing another 10,000 tests in the next couple of weeks," Mr Heng said.

In his post, he also wrote that he had spoken to Chinese Vice-Premier Han Zheng earlier in the day to convey his condolences and sympathies to families who lost their loved ones to the outbreak.

Earlier this week, the Singapore Red Cross, together with trade associations and chambers, companies and local community organisations, launched a public appeal to raise funds for humanitarian assistance to affected communities in China.

The Government will also provide $1 million in seed funding to groups helping these communities.

Mr Heng added that infectious diseases are transboundary in nature, and countries can only overcome this challenge by stepping up measures within each country, and by collaborating with one another.

As of Friday afternoon, there are more than 31,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in China and 30 in Singapore.

"Singapore will continue to do our part - enhancing our safeguards as the situation evolves, and working with China and the international community to combat this outbreak," he said. "I am confident we can overcome this challenge together."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.