Swab booths are now located at 170 clinics islandwide to allow testing for those showing signs of Covid-19 infection, while guarding the safety of general practitioners, clinic staff and other patients.
The move is in line with the national effort to ramp up Singapore's testing capacity.
The clinics are part of a network of 900 Public Health Preparedness Clinics (PHPCs), of which 400 are equipped to allow anyone aged 13 and above diagnosed with acute respiratory infection (ARI) symptoms to get tested for the coronavirus.
The Ministry of Health had previously said the strategy is to test everyone diagnosed with ARI once there is sufficient testing capacity.
The swab booths, built using an aluminium frame and polycarbonate panels, are lightweight and mobile. They were developed by local engineering company ATC, and sponsored by Temasek Foundation.
Known as Cosmo-Slim, they have been on trial since end-July to equip PHPCs with safe and effective mobile swabbing capabilities, said Temasek Foundation chief executive Ng Boon Heong.
He added that the booths allow the 170 clinics to be better protected while swabbing patients with ARI symptoms, without having to send them to other places.
Swab tests are also available at regional screening centres, a network that the Health Promotion Board is expanding.
With testing capacities enhanced, the load on other facilities such as hospitals will be lessened, said doctors.
Dr Teo Boon See, who was among the GPs who helped in the design of the booth, said having one at her Camry Medical Centre clinic in Toa Payoh Lorong 4 makes swabbing more convenient for her patients, while ensuring the safety of the staff involved.
"Sometimes, patients sneeze and cough as they are swabbed.
"So, having a swab booth protects the doctor from coming into contact with their respiratory droplets," she said.
"When patients are swabbed at their neighbourhood GPs, they can return home to await their test results instead of having to travel to other testing centres, which brings them more convenience and also helps to keep the community safe."
She added that patients who may be squeamish about getting swabbed would be more comfortable if their GPs administer the test.
GPs can direct patients who require a swab test to selected PHPCs in the Swab and Send Home (Sash) programme, as well as polyclinics.
For patients to receive a free consultation and swab test, they must arrive at their referred Sash PHPC within 48 hours.
Otherwise, rates normally charged under the Flu Subsidy Scheme or Community Health Assist Scheme will apply.
The swab tests at PHPCs typically take one to two days to process, and patients are advised to stay home while awaiting their results.
Doctors are encouraged to use the booth outdoors, in areas with low human traffic, or in a well-ventilated room inside the clinic.
Panels on the booth are made of frosted material to ensure privacy.
Latex gloves are affixed to a panel separating the swabber from the patient, for doctors to insert their hands to collect the swab sample from the patient.
Once the swab has been taken, all areas of the booth must be sprayed immediately with a 70 per cent alcohol disinfectant to pre-vent cross-contamination between patients.