Coronavirus: Singapore's testing rate of 49,000 tests per million people among highest in the world

Singapore is looking at new methodologies to maximise the benefits it gets from such tests. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Over 281,000 tests for Covid-19 on 191,000 unique individuals have been carried out here so far, the Health Ministry's director of medical services, Associate Professor Kenneth Mak, said on Tuesday (May 19).

This comes to around 49,000 tests per million people being done in the country, he added.

Speaking at a virtual press conference, Prof Mak said: "We continue to expand our test capacity and we remain committed towards performing the tests needed for the various strategies that we put in place, to return people to work (and) back into the community safely, to ensure that the risk of spread remains under control."

He added that Singapore is looking at new methodologies to maximise the benefits it gets from such tests.

These include pooled testing methodologies, particularly in settings where the risk of spread remains low.

Such a strategy would work best when it comes to surveillance for selected parts of the population that the authorities are concerned about, said Prof Mak, without elaborating further.

The multi-ministry task force that was formed to tackle the spread of the coronavirus in Singapore had earlier this month announced its intention to ramp up the number of tests done here to 40,000 each day.

On Tuesday, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the task force, pointed out that the Republic has already drastically increased its volume of daily tests.

"Not too long ago, we were testing 2,000 tests a day. Today we're doing 8,000 a day... Our plans to ramp up that capacity, test kits, personnel, laboratories, remain on track," he said.

Mr Wong added that the ability to ramp up so quickly was due to the fact that such plans had started months ago.

He said: "We're today already testing at a rate that's among the highest in the world, and we want to do even more beyond this. As we reopen the economy, as we resume activities, testing capability and testing capacity will be a critical enabler for us to do all of these things safely."

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