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Regional Screening Centres Set Up to Facilitate Testing

               COVID-19 testing is a key enabler of the Government’s overall efforts to safely re-open after the circuit breaker. Besides diagnostic testing, we have started to conduct active surveillance testing on targeted groups, to help detect cases early and reduce the risk of large COVID-19 clusters from developing. This has been enabled by screening centres set up across the island to support the national testing efforts.

2.             Over the past months, our national capacity to conduct tests for COVID-19 has been ramped up steadily. As of 1 June 2020, we have conducted over 408,000 tests, or 71,700 tests per million population.

Testing for Safe Re-Opening

3.             Besides diagnostic testing in the community and foreign worker dormitories, we have started to conduct active surveillance testing amongst targeted groups. In May 2020, we completed testing for all staff and residents in the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Social and Family Development residential homes for seniors, as seniors living in residential institutions are more vulnerable to COVID-19. We also completed testing of pre-school and early intervention staff as a precautionary measure before pre-schools resumed their full services.

4.             Testing in the migrant worker dormitories continues, both to contain the spread of the virus as well as to enable migrant workers to return to work. With the gradual re-opening of more workplaces, we have also started testing workers who are returning to work in the construction, marine and process sectors. This is because of the presence of a higher proportion of confirmed cases within these sectors in the past, and the greater difficulty in maintaining strict safe management and distancing measures at all times given the nature of their work. Testing will also be expanded to cover workers with higher risk of exposure to COVID-19, such as frontline workers supporting COVID-19 operations.

5.             We have also extended testing to individuals who are diagnosed with acute respiratory infection (ARI) at first presentation to a doctor, starting first with groups such as seniors 65 years old and above, healthcare workers, as well as staff and older students[1] of our education institutions[2]. This is to allow us to identify COVID-19 cases earlier and to quickly contain any potential spread in the community.

Regional Screening Centres to Support Testing

6.             The Health Promotion Board (HPB) has been appointed as the national agency to support COVID-19 testing, working closely with our healthcare partners. HPB has been setting up Regional Screening Centres (RSC) progressively across the island to support our screening and testing needs. These centres are integral to the implementation of our national testing strategy, and play a critical role in keeping Singapore COVID-19 safe.

7.             The RSCs were deployed at temporary sites in May 2020 to carry out the screening services for preschool staff. Starting in June, they have been deployed to other sites, working closely with sector lead agencies (such as the Building and Construction Authority for the construction sector, and Economic Development Board for the marine and process sector) to support the screening requirements for workers in the identified sectors. Where possible, RSCs will be located in places that are easily accessible to support the screening needs in the community.

8.             Two of these centres, at the Old Police Academy and The Float @ Marina Bay, have commenced operations from 2 June 2020. HPB has set up two more centres on 8 June at the Bukit Gombak sport hall and Bishan sport hall, with another centre on the way at 2 Bedok North Street 2 (former Sepak Takraw sport hall). There are also other swabbing sites set up in partnership with private partners to support these efforts, such as the testing facility at One Farrer Hotel. As testing capacity and operations ramp up, HPB will set up more of such centres as necessary at suitable locations across the island.

9.             The RSCs are set up with proper infection control measures, and strict safe distancing requirements will be observed to protect individuals and the community. The RSCs do not take in walk-in requests for screening. Individuals who are unwell or have medical concerns should consult their primary care doctors, and will be referred for screening at the RSCs if necessary.

Testing for Safe Transition

10.             As we build up our testing capacity, we will continually review our testing policies, as part of our broader strategy to fight COVID-19. While testing helps us to detect, isolate and contain possible spread, strong infection control measures will continue to be the mainstay of disease prevention in our community. We must continue to practise strict safe distancing and good personal hygiene, to reduce the risk of transmissions. Together, we can make our homes, schools, workplaces and communities safe as we ease into the phased resumption of our social and economic activities.

[1] This refers to students who are 13 years-old and above. For younger students, doctors will assess whether a test is required, as younger children may require different clinical considerations than older children.

[2] This includes preschools (including early intervention centres), primary and secondary schools (including student care centres), special education schools, Institutes of Higher Learning, and Private Education Institutions.

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