Covid-19 testing operation kicks off for Punggol's Sumang Walk HDB block residents

Some 360 residents of 325A Sumang Walk will undergo mandatory swab tests on Tuesday (June 8) and Wednesday (June 9) after eight Covid-19 cases were detected in the block. Many were concerned, but felt the testing was a necessary precaution.

SINGAPORE - In a slow and orderly manner, residents of Sumang Walk in Punggol walked into a pavilion in their compound to get swabbed for Covid-19 on Tuesday morning (June 8).

They had been called for a special Covid-19 testing operation by the Ministry of Health, after cases of coronavirus infection were detected among those living in a Housing Board block there. Eight confirmed Covid-19 cases from three families have been detected at Block 325A.

Dr Janil Puthucheary, an MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, told the media that a total of 361 residents from 124 households would be tested.

Residents seemed calm after being notified of the testing operation, he added.

"Not only are they calm, but many of them also volunteered to help, which was very kind of them," said Dr Janil, who is also the Senior Minister of State for Health as well as for Communications and Information.

Mr Muhammad Jalaluddeen, 29, was one of the first few residents who was swabbed on Tuesday. He exited the swabbing area around 9.20am.

He went down on his own. His wife and eldest son, aged eight, would get swabbed later in the day. His younger sons, aged six and three, do not have to be tested for the virus.

"The swab was slightly uncomfortable but it's just a few seconds," said Mr Jalaluddeen, who has lived at Block 325A Sumang Walk for about two years.

It was his first time being swabbed.

Mr Jalaluddeen, who works at the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, said the process was efficient and fast.

He said knowing there were cases in the block was a bit worrying. “But I’m sure the authorities are taking steps for us to stay safe.”

He added: "They will probably find some cases, but I'm hoping they are asymptomatic. With the vaccines available, hopefully everyone will be okay." 

Another Punggol resident, housewife Nurul Ashikin Hassan, 30, was swabbed along with her 37-year-old husband. They live in neighbouring Block 323D but had visited Ms Ashikin's uncle at Block 325A previously between May 10 and June 5.

She said the process was “super smooth”, with people signalling to them where to go for the tests.

MOH had encouraged visitors to Block 325A during that period to come forward for testing.

Residents waiting for a Covid-19 swab test at a multi-purpose pavilion next to Block 325A Sumang Walk on June 8, 2021. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Residents arriving at a multi-purpose pavilion next to Block 325A Sumang Walk for a swab test on June 8, 2021. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Mr Ang Boon Leng, 63, a Grab driver, headed down with his family. They live on the second floor at Block 325A.

His wife and two daughters joined him.

His son was swabbed at a clinic on Monday as a precaution after hearing about the cases in the block, said Mr Ang.

Mr Ang added that the family had been slightly worried when they were notified of the testing operation but went down to get swabbed for peace of mind and to be safe.

"Worry is worry, but coming down to be swabbed is safer for us all," said Mr Ang, who added that the testing process took less than 10 minutes.

Residents arriving at a multi-purpose pavilion next to Block 325A Sumang Walk for a swab test on June 8, 2021. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

"The swab was okay, just a bit sensitive when it was first poked into the nose," he said in Mandarin.

He will return to work after the result of the swab comes back negative.

"I have faith, because I was vaccinated some time ago. I will wear two masks just as an additional precaution to keep passengers safe too," he said.

MOH said as at noon on Tuesday, 230 residents and visitors of Block 325A Sumang Walk have been tested for Covid-19. All the test results are pending.

The testing operation in Sumang Walk began on Tuesday and will continue from 9am to 4pm on Wednesday.

The ministry also provided an update on the voluntary testing of 4,091 visitors of Block 506 Hougang Avenue 8, and residents and visitors of neighbouring blocks – Block 511 Hougang Avenue 10; Blocks 681, 683 and 684 Hougang Avenue 8; Block 682 Hougang Avenue 4; Blocks 685 and 698 Hougang Street 61.

It said 3,965 individuals were found to have tested negative for Covid-19. Another 126 test results are pending.