Covid-19 testing to be expanded to community groups like taxi and private-hire drivers, food delivery riders

The groups were chosen due to the nature of their working environment, such as the high frequency of interactions with members of the public. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Coronavirus testing will be expanded in the upcoming weeks to groups such as taxi and private-hire car drivers and food delivery personnel, as part of efforts to provide a better picture of infection prevalence in the community.

In a release on Saturday (Aug 29), the Ministry of Health (MOH) said that the community groups which testing will be extended to also includes key vendors servicing foreign worker dormitories, as well as stallholders at hawker centres, markets and similar food and beverage establishments such as coffee shops.

This is due to the nature of their working environment, such as the high frequency of interactions with members of the public, even though there has been no local evidence that these groups have a higher risk of getting infected.

The costs of these tests will be fully borne by the Government.

The ministry urged individuals in these identified community groups to come forward and utilise the tests on offer, which will be conducted on a one-time basis.

In the statement, the MOH also reiterated that makeshift face coverings such as bandanas, scarves and neck gaiters should not be used, as per the recommendations of the multi-ministry task force tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.

Noting that there have been recent queries on the efficacy of such makeshift coverings in preventing disease transmission, MOH said that they may not perform as well as purpose-built masks as they may not have a good fit around the wearer's nose and mouth and are made from materials that are not specific for disease prevention.

"A mask should be worn such that it closely and completely covers the wearer's nose and mouth, without leaving a gap between the mask and the face," the ministry added.

Tighter regulations on what constitutes a mask and how it should be worn also came into effect on Saturday, according to a notice gazetted the day before.

The definition of a mask has been revised to mean a covering made of paper, plastic or textile solely designed to be worn over the nose and mouth as protection against infection or air pollution.

Previously, a mask was defined as "any paper or textile covering designed or made to be worn over the nose and mouth to provide the wearer protection against infections or air pollution, but excludes a face shield".

A mask is now also required to touch the wearer's nose, cheeks and chin when worn.

The previous legislation only stated that it needed to touch the wearer's nose and cheeks.

The amended regulations under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act come after a recent incident where a bus driver refused to allow a man wearing a neck gaiter to board.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.