S'pore-bound travellers from US, Australia and most of Europe can now take virtually supervised ART

The test must be taken within two days before departure for Singapore. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Eligible travellers flying to Singapore from the United States, Australia and most countries in Europe are now able to fulfil their pre-departure Covid-19 tests through virtually supervised antigen rapid tests (ARTs).

This would provide convenience and, in some cases, cost savings to travellers.

But the option is not yet available to short-term visitors such as tourists.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) said in an update on its website earlier this month that the virtually supervised test option will be available to Singapore citizens, permanent residents and work pass holders departing from some countries.

These countries include India, the United Kingdom, member states of the European Union and several countries in the Middle East.

MOH said that travellers looking to tap this new option should use only ART kits that are approved for distribution/use in Singapore or the relevant countries.

It also reminded travellers that the test must be taken within two days before departure for Singapore.

The Straits Times (ST) has contacted MOH for more details on how countries are deemed to be eligible for the scheme.

MOH had in January started a pilot programme for those taking Covid-19 ARTs to do so over video consultations with healthcare providers.

These tests can now be used for pre-departure testing for those travelling out of Singapore and rostered routine testings.

Covid-19 patients can use the virtually supervised ARTs to register their infections in the national records. Tests generally cost under $30.

As at Tuesday (March 22), 27 service providers are able to virtually supervise pre-departure ARTs for travellers heading to Singapore.

Healthcare providers told ST they expect demand for such virtually supervised tests to rise rapidly.

A Kingston Medical Group spokesman said it currently serves about 500 customers daily with its virtual ART supervision service, with 95 per cent of customers tapping the service to fulfil requirements for travelling into other countries from Singapore.

Dr Edwin Chng, the medical director of Parkway Shenton, said the healthcare provider has received many inquiries about virtually supervised ARTs for inbound travellers.

He expects a huge surge in demand when more people start to travel again and when travellers from more countries are allowed to take such tests.

A Raffles Medical Group spokesman said: "Since the announcement of the acceptance of supervised virtual ART as a pre-departure test for travellers arriving in Singapore, we have seen the majority of new bookings from this segment."

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