Bukit Panjang residents get 'loud' morning call from MP to collect Covid-19 self-test kits

Mr Liang Eng Hwa, the MP for Bukit Panjang, addressing residents using a sound system on the morning of Aug 1.
Mr Liang Eng Hwa, the MP for Bukit Panjang, addressing residents using a sound system on the morning of Aug 1.ST PHOTO: NG KENG GENE

SINGAPORE - On a rainy Sunday morning (Aug 1), some Bukit Panjang residents may have been awoken by their MP's voice being blasted through a speaker.

"Sorry to disturb you on a Sunday morning... I just want to inform everyone that we will be distributing ART (antigen rapid test) self-test kits," said Mr Liang Eng Hwa, the MP for Bukit Panjang, at 10.50am.

Residents gathered at their windows to listen to the MP, and acknowledged his announcement with a round of applause after.

Within 10 minutes, some made their way down to a collection centre set up at a community pavilion at Block 443 Fajar Road.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) had on Saturday night announced that it is working with the People's Association to distribute ART self-test kits to residents living in the vicinity of Fajar Market at 446 Fajar Road and of 497 Jurong West Street 41 Market.

The distribution exercise is part of MOH's efforts to ring-fence cases linked to the growing Jurong Fishery Port cluster.

As at noon on Saturday, 1,027 cases had been linked to the cluster, with 26 of them reported that day.

Three or more Covid-19 cases were linked to Fajar Market, one of 43 markets and food centres that have been linked to the fishery port cluster thus far.

Mr Liang told The Straits Times on Sunday that more than 30,000 kits had been prepared for distribution to those living within a radius of about 1km from Fajar Market.

Volunteers were activated on Saturday evening for the distribution exercise that began on Sunday morning, he said.

He said that given the short notice, he was not surprised at the small turnout when distribution began at 10am. In the first 30 minutes of distribution at Block 443 Fajar Road - one of 11 collection points for Bukit Panjang residents - only about 30 to 40 residents came to collect the kits.

Mr Liang said that without much time to spread the word to residents about the distribution drive, he decided to give the loudspeaker system a go.

Among residents who picked up their test kits was crane operator Tan Teck Ann.

The 50-year-old said that while he is already on rostered routine testing for those working in the construction industry, the free test kits would be useful for his wife and son. They can have peace of mind when they test negative.

"I work in an industry that's considered high risk, so for my family to get tested is a good thing," he said.

Another resident, Madam Ponirah Rabu, said she had yet to decide if she would use the kit immediately upon reaching home. She collected her kit at another distribution point at Block 234A Bukit Panjang Ring Road.

Said the 66-year-old housewife: "I don't feel unwell and don't frequent Fajar Market, so maybe I will keep it first for when I might be exposed."

Another resident, who gave his name only as Raj, suggested that detailed instructions, perhaps in the form of videos, could be made available to those collecting the test kits.

"It will be helpful to have broadcasts on how to use the kits in all four (official) languages, especially for older folks who are more at risk," said the 50-year-old, who works in the pharmaceutical industry.

"If they don't use the kit properly, all the efforts to distribute them would have been wasted."

In Jurong, ART self-test kits are available at seven collection points, said Mr Xie Yao Quan, an MP for Jurong GRC, in a Facebook post on Sunday.

Those who wish to find the closest collection point to their homes may do so at ART Go Where's website.  

Distribution will continue until 6pm on Sunday, and will run again from 10am to 6pm on Monday.

Elsewhere, residents of Block 556 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10 and Block 510 West Coast Drive turned up for mandatory Covid-19 tests on Sunday.

MOH had announced the tests on Saturday after seven cases of infection were detected in five households at the Ang Mo Kio block, while 10 were detected in five households at the West Coast Drive block.

Compulsory testing was also completed for residents and visitors of five other housing blocks in the past week, with the results yet to be announced by MOH. The blocks are: 3 Teck Whye Avenue, 357 Yung An Road, 438 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10, as well as 430 and 445A Clementi Avenue 3.