5th Oct 2020
Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Mr Sitoh Yih Pin
MP for Potong Pasir GRC
Question No. 58
To ask the Minister for Health (a) what is the estimated timeline of when a viable rapid COVID-19 test kit will become widely available; and (b) whether this, coupled with universal contact tracing, can allow sectors such as aviation, hospitality and other related businesses to resume progressively.
1. The Ministry of Health (MOH) currently deploys Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing using nasopharyngeal samples as the main mode of testing and sampling. As new testing technologies become available, MOH actively evaluates these alternative tests and sampling methods to ensure that they can be deployed in a safe and effective manner. The key evaluation considerations include: the combined clinical performance of the test and sampling method, ease of administration, throughput, total turnaround time when using the test, and cost.
2. Some of the rapid COVID-19 test kits under evaluation are showing promising results. Increased testing facilitated by such rapid test kits, coupled with strengthened containment efforts including contact tracing, and adherence to appropriate safe management measures, have potential to allow us to resume more activities, including travel related industries and larger scale events. We hope to be able to deploy some of these alternative tests in the months ahead, as we work out practical ways to incorporate such rapid testing into our national COVID-19 response.
3. While testing can help to reduce transmission risks, it is not foolproof. A negative test does not mean that an individual is free from COVID-19. For example, an individual who may be incubating the virus might not be picked up at the point of test.
4. We therefore need to combine testing with contact tracing and other public health measures. The public must also continue to adhere to safe management measures such as the wearing of masks, practising good personal hygiene, and observing safe distancing, to keep everyone safe.