Pre-conference Covid-19 tests quick, well-organised: Attendees

A participant of the Ministry of Communications and Information's Insights Conference undergoing a Covid-19 swab test before the event yesterday. The antigen rapid tests used are less sensitive than polymerase chain reaction tests but provide results
A participant of the Ministry of Communications and Information's Insights Conference undergoing a Covid-19 swab test before the event yesterday. The antigen rapid tests used are less sensitive than polymerase chain reaction tests but provide results more quickly. No one tested positive.ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

About 200 attendees of the Ministry of Communications and Information's Insights Conference took a rapid Covid-19 test before heading into the Sands Expo and Convention Centre grand ballroom yesterday.

No one tested positive.

The pre-event swabbing used antigen rapid tests, which are less sensitive than the more commonly used polymerase chain reaction tests but provide results more quickly.

Participants began turning up at 7.45am, ahead of the 9am start time for the conference.

The swabbing process was simple - participants first queued at four swabbing zones, which had three stations each. There, they received a confirmation text message from the Ministry of Health and a set of labels for their tests.

At the station, a cotton swab was inserted about 2.5cm into each nostril for about five to 10 seconds.

Participants then headed into a holding area, also separated into four zones, where they were seated about a metre apart as they awaited a text message with their test result.

These zones corresponded with where they were to be seated in the ballroom for the conference.

Participants had to present the SMS with their negative test result before they were allowed to enter the ballroom.

Dr Sinuhe Arroyo, founder and chief executive of artificial intelligence company Taiger, said that the whole swabbing process was "no problem at all".

It was his first Covid-19 swab test and he described the whole process as well-organised.

"It gave me the comfort that I am safe entering such an event," he said. "It gives me hope that we are going to see more of this controlled physical contact, which is very important for businesses."

Mr Johann Annuar, executive director of non-profit organisation Engineering Good, found the testing procedure comfortable enough, although a sinus issue caused him to tear for five to 10 minutes.

It was also his first time being swabbed. "The whole process was very professional, and for it to be done in 15 to 20 minutes is amazing," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 17, 2020, with the headline 'Pre-conference Covid-19 tests quick, well-organised: Attendees'. Print Edition | Subscribe