SINGAPORE - Testing for Covid-19 will not just be for potential new cases but will become routine, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who spoke about Singapore's shift towards testing becoming more preventive.
In order to isolate and ring-fence coronavirus cases and their contacts promptly before the virus spreads further, testing needs to be done more liberally and extensively, said Mr Lee in a live national address on Monday (May 31).
"We will not only test to identify infections when a new case pops up.
"We will also routinely and regularly test people who appear well, in normal work or social or community settings, to make these places safe," he said.
Such extensive testing will give Singapore the confidence to resume larger-scale events or gatherings, such as religious services, football games, concerts and wedding receptions, as participants can be assured that these events are Covid-19 safe.
"Therefore, you should expect routine, large-scale, fast and simple testing to be part of our new normal," he said.
Testing also has to be conducted more widely, noted Mr Lee, given how the coronavirus has mutated to become more transmissible.
He pointed out that Singapore already does rostered routine testing in a number of higher-risk settings, including migrant worker dormitories, construction worksites, shipyards, air and sea ports, hospitals and nursing homes.
"With faster, cheaper tests, we can do routine testing at more work places, like offices, restaurants and shopping mall," said Mr Lee.
"We can also routinely test individuals whose occupations involve close contact with many people, and could result in superspreading events."
Taxi drivers and bus captains, physiotherapists, masseurs, stage performers, sports and fitness instructors and educators are among those who could be tested regularly.
Mr Lee said this will reassure their customers, patients and students, and enable them to work safely even with Covid-19 in circulation.