Active Covid-19 testing to include acute respiratory infection patients at GPs; more regional screening centres on the way

More regional screening centres will be set up to ramp up Covid-19 testing.
More regional screening centres will be set up to ramp up Covid-19 testing.PHOTO: TEO CHEE HEAN/FACEBOOK
More regional screening centres will be set up to ramp up Covid-19 testing.
More regional screening centres will be set up to ramp up Covid-19 testing.PHOTO: TEMASEK FOUNDATION

SINGAPORE - To support Singapore's stepped up testing efforts for Covid-19, the Health Promotion Board (HPB) will be progressively setting up regional screening centres (RSCs) across the island where such tests can be conducted on a larger scale, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong announced at a virtual media conference on Monday (June 8).

These centres will help the authorities to conduct active testing among target groups, including those that could be more vulnerable to Covid-19, said Mr Gan.

This will enable the quick identification of cases and containment of community spread.

Groups that have been subject to such active testing so far include staff and residents of senior homes and pre-school staff.

Testing has also been expanded to individuals diagnosed with acute respiratory infection at first presentation to a doctor, starting first with groups such as seniors 65 years old and above, healthcare workers, as well as staff and older students in education institutions, said Mr Gan.

Moving forward, testing will also be expanded to cover workers with higher risk of exposure to Covid-19, such as front-line workers supporting Covid-19 operations, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) in a press statement.

Four regional screening centres have already been set up by the HPB, which has been appointed the national agency to support Covid-19 testing in collaboration with healthcare partners, said the MOH.

Two of these centres, at the Old Police Academy and The Float @ Marina Bay, started operating on June 2. Two more centres were also set up on Monday at the Bukit Gombak Sport Hall and Bishan Sport Hall, while another centre at 7 Bedok North Street 2 - the former sepak takraw sport hall - is in the pipeline.

The MOH said that these RSCs were initially set up at temporary sites last month to carry out Covid-19 screening for pre-school staff.

A regional screening centre set up at Bishan Sports Hall. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG


Relocated this month, the centres work closely with government agencies to support screening requirements for workers in identified sectors. For instance, the Building and Construction Authority is working with the RSCs to carry out screening for the construction sector before workers get approval to resume work, while the Economic Development Board will work with the RSCs for the marine and process sector.

Other swabbing sites have also been set up in collaboration with private partners to support these efforts, such as a drive-through testing facility at One Farrer Hotel. More such centres will be set up by the HPB when the need arises, said the MOH.

The RSCs conduct polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, and do not take in walk-in requests for screening. Individuals who are unwell or have medical concerns should consult their primary care doctors, and will be referred for screening at the RSCs if necessary.

The screening centres are set up with proper infection control measures, and strict safe distancing requirements will be observed to protect individuals and the community.

Four students and one non-teaching staff member from different schools were found to have tested positive for Covid-19 on Sunday, as a result of active surveillance testing that began last Tuesday for all students above the age of 12 and school staff diagnosed with acute respiratory infection when they first see a doctor.

The Education Ministry said the positive cases are not a cluster and that they were likely infected during the circuit breaker period, and not after schools reopened last Tuesday.

Correction: An earlier version of this story, based on an MOH press release, said that an upcoming screening centre will be located at 2 Bedok North Street 2. It should be 7 Bedok North Street 2.