SINGAPORE - From Dec 1, any company or individual who needs a Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test can procure the service from approved providers, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong announced on Tuesday (Nov 10).
Individuals seeking a PCR test will include people requiring pre-departure testing before travel, who will no longer be required to seek approval from the Ministry of Health for such a test.
Those who take such tests at approved providers will have to pay for the tests which will not be subsidised.
There are currently about 600 clinics and private healthcare providers that can provide PCR testing from Dec 1, Mr Gan said at a virtual press conference.
At present, members of the public who are not unwell and who do not need to meet specific testing requirements, such as pre-departure and pre-event testing, are unable to request a test for Covid-19.
The move, which kicks in from Nov 30, 11.59pm, will allow Singapore to support a larger range of needs as Singapore resumes more economic community activities, MOH said in a press statement.
Though the number of cases in the local community is currently low, more cases can be expected in phase three, with daily infection figures potentially going up to 20 or 30 cases a day, said Education Minister Lawrence Wong at the same virtual press conference as Mr Gan. The two ministers co-chair the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19.
Enhancing the accessibility of PCR tests is a critical part of Singapore's strategy against Covid-19 as it moves towards phase three, which will see larger gatherings of eight people, and potential increases in capacity limits in venues such as museums and places of worship, as well as for wedding receptions, said Mr Wong. Contact tracing efforts will also have to be beefed up, he added.
On the providers of PCR testing, MOH said it will continue to increase the number of clinics, laboratories and other providers who can administer the tests.
Mr Gan added that the authorities are also continuing to conduct pilots on pre-event testing by using antigen rapid tests, which will enable more large-scale and higher-risk activities to resume in a safer manner.
Such pilots have been conducted at the Singapore International Energy Week and the One Championship Mixed Martial Arts events in October.
"We will continue to pilot different workflows in different settings, and will provide more details on requirements for pre-event testing when ready," added MOH.