Quick, efficient self-administered Covid-19 swab tests conducted at centres across Singapore

The quick test centre at Bishan Sports Hall on July 8. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - Quick test centres have been running like well-oiled machines ahead of Covid-19 rostered routine testing becoming mandatory for workers in higher-risk settings from next Thursday (July 15).

Those who work in such settings, including facial spas and dine-in eateries, which have unmasked customers, will have to undergo a fast and easy test (FET) every 14 days. They can get tested at any of the five quick test centres islandwide, or do self-swabs under the supervision of a trained staff member from their workplace.

This is as more Covid-19 safety measures are set to ease from next Monday.

FET uses tests such as antigen rapid tests.

At quick test centres, which were rolled out on June 21 ahead of the mandatory regime kicking in, people also administer their own swabs under supervision.

The centres are at Yishun bus interchange, Bishan Sports Hall, Jurong West Sports Centre, Pasir Ris Sports Hall and in Tekka Lane.

At quick test centres that The Straits Times visited on Thursday, the people who showed up for swab tests were mostly hawkers and sports coaches.

Each test was completed within 20 minutes.

Many said the process was easy and efficient. They had received an SMS about two weeks ago instructing them to register for an appointment. They also received SMS reminders telling them what time to show up at the centres.

Quick test centres are open from 10am to 5pm daily, and tests are by appointment only.

For some such as hawker Nurfizah Atamo, 53, getting tested at a quick test centre was a practical choice.

"I have to set up my stall early in the morning and the pharmacies selling self-test kits may not be open at this time," said Ms Nurfizah, who was among the first to arrive at the Bishan centre at 10.15am. "I have no time to queue and buy self-test kits either, so I thought it would be easier to get tested (at a quick test centre)."

She welcomed the need to get tested regularly. "For stall owners like us, people come to our stalls every day and could possibly spread the virus to us, so there is the need to get tested," she said.

The quick test centres were set up to support small businesses that are unable to organise supervised self-swab tests on their own. While the test is self-administered, quick test centre personnel are present on site to offer assistance.

A 62-year-old hawker at Boon Lay Market, who gave her name only as Madam Chia, had her test done at the Jurong West quick test centre. She said she appreciated the assistance.

"I came here because I don't know how to use the self-administered test kit myself. I feel more confident with people guiding me," she said in Mandarin.

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As testing for Covid-19 becomes part of the new normal in Singapore, DIY test kits will be sold at pharmacies from June 16. ST journalist Timothy Goh tries out the Abbott PanBio Covid-19 Antigen Self-test, to see how easy it is to use.

Mr Shaum Kin Peng, 48, a hawker at Tekka Market, took his second test on Thursday, after his first swab two weeks ago.

He hopes self-administered Covid-19 test kits, which cost around $10 to $13, will be subsidised by the Government.

"I came to the quick test centre instead of using the self-administered test kit because the testing is free here. It would be much better if the Government gave us subsidies for the self-administered kit," said Mr Shaum, who was swabbed at the Tekka Lane quick test centre.

"I don't think most Singaporeans, including me, want to pay if we can get it for free instead."

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