SINGAPORE - The cost of rapid Covid-19 testing has gone down from $80 per person when the test kits were first deployed, to under $50 now, said Education Minister Lawrence Wong on Monday (Jan 4).
He added that the costs of the antigen rapid testing - which include operation and manpower costs - are likely to come down further.
"Over time, we can expect more innovative rapid test kits that are cheaper, faster and more convenient to administer," Mr Wong told Parliament in a ministerial statement on Singapore's response to the pandemic.
"These will enable us to test more extensively and conveniently, to detect positive cases and protect our population more comprehensively."
Antigen rapid testing complements the more sensitive, but slower polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.
Mr Wong noted how concerns had emerged among various groups when Singapore first deployed testing in a significant way. Some people thought it would be a hassle, he said, while others felt there would be a stigma associated with being identified for testing.
"But I hope by now we can all appreciate and understand the reasons why testing is important and necessary."
He stressed that frequent and widespread testing is an important enabler for Singapore and will be ramped up in the coming months. Singaporeans must start getting used to the idea of regular testing being a part of their lives during the pandemic, he said.
At present, anyone who sees a doctor with an acute respiratory infection or flu-like symptoms will be advised to take a PCR test, Mr Wong said.
On average, more than 14,000 individuals were tested every week in December. This was how several recent cases were picked up, he added.
"It is very important for anyone who feels unwell to see the doctor immediately," Mr Wong said. "And if the doctor advises you to be tested, please comply with the doctor's instructions."
The minister, who co-chairs the multi-ministerial task force in charge of tackling the crisis, also underscored the importance of sticking to safe management measures even as Singapore enters phase three of its reopening.
"Unfortunately, there are a few who persist in pushing their luck and disregarding the rules," he said. "We have stepped up checks over the festive period. Firm enforcement actions have been and will continue to be taken against any breaches."
He urged Singaporeans to keep up the good habits cultivated over the past few months, such as wearing masks, practising good hygiene, washing their hands regularly and not touching their faces with their hands.