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Testing Staff of Social Services Agencies for COVID-19 on Regular Basis Prior Before Obtaining Vaccination

4th Jan 2021

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Ms Joan Pereira
MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC

Question No. 276

To ask the Minister for Health whether the Ministry will consider testing staff of Social Service Agencies (SSAs) on a regular basis before they obtain their COVID-19 vaccination since they interact with the elderly who visit the SSAs on a daily basis.

Written Answer

Regular surveillance testing is one component of a broader set of measures to reduce the risk of transmission. The other components include strict infection prevention and control, safe distancing, visitor management and immediate testing of staff who show symptoms of acute respiratory infection. Symptomatic staff are also instructed not to return to work until they have recovered from their infection. A risk-based approach is adopted for surveillance testing, where services for more vulnerable seniors are prioritised. Given that seniors living in residential settings are frail and cared for in close confines, staff of residential care homes are regularly tested.

We take a more calibrated approach to test staff of non-residential care settings and social services, as they serve seniors in the community who are generally less frail. For this group of staff, the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) conducted a one-time swab test in June 2020. We will review the need for regular surveillance testing in non-residential care settings if community infection rates increase.

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