From today, anyone who needs a Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test will be able to get it done at approved private clinics.
Those seeking tests could include companies and people requiring pre-departure testing before travel. The latter group will no longer be required to seek approval from the Ministry of Health for such a test.
Before this, members of the public who were not unwell and did not need to meet specific testing requirements, such as pre-departure and pre-event testing, could not request to get tested for the coronavirus.
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong had said on Nov 10 that the expanded testing availability is part of efforts to support a larger range of needs as Singapore resumes more economic and community activities. The list of approved testing partners can be found at https://go.gov.sg/covid19pcrtest providers
Those who request tests at these providers under the new arrangement will have to call the clinic ahead of time to book an appointment for their swab.
They will also have to pay for the tests, which will not be subsidised.
Mr Gan said: "We hope that through making available testing capacity from the private sector, there will be competition and there will be more supplies available. And by doing so, we will ensure that the price they offer will be competitive, and that (it) will reflect the true cost of the test."
Doctors told The Straits Times that they would be charging rates of about $200, including GST, for the test.
Dr Dale Lim, family physician at The Tenteram Clinic in Toa Payoh, said he is not expecting an increase in demand for the tests until more people need to travel.
Dr Lim's clinic conducted about 30 swabs each week when a programme was implemented in April to let patients who met certain criteria be swabbed at polyclinics and private clinics.
However, Dr Aziz Noordin, a family physician at Tampines Family Medicine Clinic, said his clinic has stocked up on kits in anticipation of a rise in demand. This will come as more people begin to take part in activities such as clubbing and social events as Singapore opens up.
"I expect people will come for testing for peace of mind, but... the price may also be a barrier," he said.
Meanwhile, Healthway Medical Group has made testing available at 38 clinics, up from five in August.
Dr John Cheng, head of primary care and family physician at the group, said it has already seen a 40 per cent to 50 per cent increase in patients coming in for swabs since August, and has been working closely with major laboratory providers to ensure an adequate supply of test kits over the past few months.
"Having anticipated this surge in demand for testing facilities in the months ahead, we are adequately stocked and prepared for a higher demand for PCR tests. We will also continue to monitor the response and restock accordingly," he said.