Coronavirus: 3,300 in shelters, children's homes and centres tested by tomorrow

The tests are being done as part of expanded community testing efforts during phase two of Singapore's reopening after the circuit breaker.
The tests are being done as part of expanded community testing efforts during phase two of Singapore's reopening after the circuit breaker.PHOTO: ST FILE

About 3,300 staff, residents and clients of various homes, shelters and centres would have been tested for Covid-19 by tomorrow, Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee announced yesterday.

These include people from voluntary children's homes, crisis shelters and children's disability homes.

Staff engaged in community services for people with disabilities, such as sheltered workshops, day activity centres and special student care centres, are also being tested.

Mr Lee said in a Facebook post that the tests are being done as part of expanded community testing efforts during phase two of Singapore's reopening after the circuit breaker.

The Ministry of Health had already announced last Thursday that Singapore's testing capacity would be ramped up as the economy reopens and more people are out and about.

The Republic aims at being able to eventually conduct 40,000 tests daily. As of last Thursday, about 12,000 tests were being carried out each day.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong had said that tests would be carried out in a strategic manner, focusing on specific groups.

As part of expanded testing, more people will be swabbed for Covid-19 infection, including those aged 13 and above who are diagnosed with acute respiratory infection and front-line staff interacting with travellers.

More regional screening centres are being set up to meet the anticipated increase in the number of people being tested.

Yesterday, Mr Lee also announced that the Ministry of Social and Family Development will conduct fortnightly tests on all staff and residents of facilities serving seniors from next month onwards to monitor their health.

The tests will complement other measures in place to check the spread of the disease, including the mandatory wearing of masks in the homes and facilities, regular temperature and health checks, and frequent washing of hands and cleaning of high-touch areas.

 
 

Seniors are considered particularly vulnerable to Covid-19. As of the end of April, about one in five of those aged 80 and older who tested positive for the coronavirus had died.

The Government announced last month that it would prioritise Covid-19 testing for residents and staff in homes for the elderly.

Mr Lee said yesterday that these tests had returned negative.

He said: "We are staying vigilant... I'd like to thank the staff, residents and clients of our facilities for undertaking these tests as we work together towards a new Covid-safe normal."


Pre-schools and nursing homes covered

PRE-SCHOOL STAFF

Over 39,000 employees in pre-schools had been tested for the coronavirus as of May 29, ahead of the pre-schools' reopening.

Of these, 13 staff tested positive. Subsequent testing showed that 11 were old infections and the staff had recovered.

On June 3, MOH said in an update that a 14th staff member had tested positive, while subsequent tests had shown that another two of the infections were likely to be old ones.

NURSING HOME RESIDENTS AND STAFF

All 9,000 staff and 13,200 residents of nursing homes had been tested as of May 31.

Of these, four residents and one staff member tested positive.

FOREIGN WORKERS

Up to 10,000 tests are being done on this group daily.

As of last Tuesday, about 120,000 workers had either recovered or tested virus-free.

There are about 323,000 migrant workers staying in dormitories in Singapore.

The authorities said they expect around 250,000 migrant workers to have recovered or been cleared through testing by the end of next month.

They hope to test and clear the remaining 20 per cent of workers in August.

PATIENTS WITH ACUTE RESPIRATORY INFECTION

The criteria for patients with such infections to be tested for Covid-19 have changed over the last month.

On June 2, it was announced that all students above the age of 12 and school staff with acute respiratory infection would be tested upon seeing a doctor.

On June 19, this was expanded to include those aged 45 and above.

Finally, last Thursday, the Health Ministry said anyone older than 12 with an acute respiratory infection would be tested.

It said this final expansion fulfils its target of testing all patients with such an infection when testing capacity permits.

Children aged 12 and below with acute respiratory infection will be assessed on a case-by-case basis before being tested, as different clinical considerations may apply to them.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 30, 2020, with the headline '3,300 in shelters, children's homes and centres tested by tomorrow'. Print Edition | Subscribe