As we resume more activities under Phase 2, the Ministry of Health (MOH) will continue to step up testing capacities and contact tracing capabilities to support the safe re-opening of Singapore.
Expansion of community testing
MOH will expand its testing strategy to test more extensively among key population groups in the community:
All individuals aged 13 and above who are diagnosed with acute respiratory infection (ARI) at first presentation to a doctor will now be tested for COVID-19 from 1 July onwards. This is an expansion from the current testing of all individuals aged 45 and above who are diagnosed with ARI. As clinical and scientific evidence shows that an infected person is most infectious right before and immediately after the start of symptoms, this expanded testing strategy allows MOH to detect infected individuals early and to quickly contain further spread.
Singapore will also conduct more active and targeted surveillance testing in the community where needed eg. testing target groups such as frontline staff interacting with travellers as we open our borders.
Supporting Public Health Preparedness Clinics
In the last few months, more than 900 Public Health Preparedness Clinics (PHPCs) provided subsidised consultation and treatment for Singaporeans, Permanent Residents and eligible Work Permit holders diagnosed with respiratory infections. More than 450,000 patients have benefitted from subsidies for treatment of respiratory infections at PHPCs and polyclinics, with around $31 million in subsidies disbursed to date.
MOH will provide a one-off $10,000 COVID-19 grant to each PHPC in recognition of the role PHPCs play in combatting COVID-19. MOH will also provide a one-time start-up grant of $1,200 in recognition of the costs and efforts PHPCs incurred in supporting the national COVID-19 testing effort and to encourage more PHPCs to join the Swab and Send Home Programme. In addition, an Assurance Grant will also be provided to support PHPCs whose doctors contract COVID-19 or are placed on Quarantine Order as a result of their providing care to their patients.
Progress in Dormitories
Up to 10,000 tests, including individual swabs, pooled swabs and serological testing, are administered daily for migrant workers.
The Inter-agency Taskforce strives to clear all the dormitories in the most expedient and efficient way possible, while safeguarding the health of residents. Dormitories are prioritised based on their readiness for testing, which depends on factors including:
As of 23 June 2020, about 120,000 workers have either recovered or have been tested to be free from the virus. Amongst the population, 80,000 are able to resume work while the rest are pending movement to appropriate accommodations before they start work. By the end of July, we expect that 80% of workers staying in the dormitories would have recovered or cleared through testing protocols.
Working together for a safe transition
The expansion of testing in the community, supported by Singapore’s healthcare networks, will help enhance disease survelliance, detect the virus early and reduce the risk of further transmission. The dormitory clearance strategy would also provide for safe return of migrant workers to the workforce. Coupled with the use of technology with TraceTogether and SafeEntry to expand contact tracing capability, these are all efforts to manage COVID-19 in Phase Two.
Nonetheless, the risk of infection and spread remains and it is crucial for everyone to remain alert and follow safe management and safe distancing measures.