Coronavirus pandemic

Covid-19 tests stepped up to around 2,900 every day

The average number of tests per million people in Singapore is now more than 7,000, compared with 6,800 on March 25.
The average number of tests per million people in Singapore is now more than 7,000, compared with 6,800 on March 25.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Singapore has ramped up Covid-19 testing, with about 2,800 to 2,900 tests done each day in the last three to four weeks.

The average number of tests per million people in Singapore is now more than 7,000, compared with 6,800 on March 25.

At a press conference yesterday, the Health Ministry's director of medical services, Associate Professor Kenneth Mak, said Singapore has the capacity to continue its testing approach, which is to test in a very targeted fashion so that "we don't waste the tests that we do".

He was responding to a question on why Singapore has not used testing more widely.

There were a record 120 more Covid-19 cases yesterday, bringing Singapore's total to 1,309.

"At this point in time, our practice is to maximise diagnostic yield we have coming out from the tests... in terms of the number of positive tests we have for the number of tests we perform," Prof Mak said.

While some countries have started doing community-based testing, Singapore does not see the need for that now, he said, adding that the focus is to test those with symptoms.

"But this is a matter we review on a regular basis... and is something we might review and consider doing in the future," Prof Mak added.

Current tests for the virus make use of a molecular biology process known as the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), which helps to determine if the sample contains any detectable genetic material of the coronavirus.

 
 

He said Singapore is looking to expand its testing capacity in a number of ways, including diversifying the types of tests hospitals and laboratories can do, and expanding where tests can be done.

"We have not found a suitable test to completely replace how we're using PCR tests for diagnosis. (But) we are going to look at various different tests as they become commercially available," Prof Mak said.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 06, 2020, with the headline 'Covid-19 tests stepped up to around 2,900 every day'. Print Edition | Subscribe