SINGAPORE — Four Antigen Rapid Test (ART) self-test kits will be available from 16 June at Guardian, Unity, and Watsons retail pharmacies, the multi-ministry taskforce (MTF) on COVID-19 said on Thursday (10 June).
The measure was unveiled by the MTF at a virtual media conference as it announced that Singapore will gradually move back to Phase 3 (Heightened Alert) in two steps, with one set of measures taking effect from 14 June and another from 21 June.
More of the self-test kits will be made available at more retail locations progressively.
The self-test kits can produce results in less than 20 minutes, are simple to use and can be self-administered, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said separately in a statement. To ensure that there are adequate supplies, sales will be initially limited to 10 ART kits per person, MOH added.
The four kits that have been granted interim authorisation for public sale by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) are ‘Abbott PanBioTM COVID-19 Antigen Self-test’, ‘QuickVue At-Home OTC COVID-19 Test’, ‘SD Biosensor SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Self-Test Nasal’, and ‘SD Biosensor Standard Q COVID-19 Ag Home Test’.
Director of medical services Kenneth Mak told reporters that the ART self-test kits complement Singapore's overall surveillance strategy. "These fast and easy-to-use tests allow us to detect infected cases more quickly, in particular among individuals those who do not have acute respiratory infection symptoms, but are concerned that they may have been exposed to COVID-19."
Individuals who have a positive result for their ART self-test should immediately approach a Swab and Send Home Public Health Preparedness Clinic (SASH PHPC) for a confirmatory Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test. They are then required to self-isolate until they get a negative PCR test result.
Those who test negative on their self-test ART should continue to stay vigilant and adhere to prevailing safe management measures. Individuals who have ARI symptoms should continue to visit a doctor for a full diagnosis and PCR test instead of relying on an ART self-test kit.
HSA said in a separate statement that ARTs have lower sensitivity than PCR tests and have a higher chance of false negative results.
"Incorrect sample preparation or testing process when using the test, or a low viral protein level in the user’s nasal sample (e.g. 1-2 days from potential exposure), could also result in a false negative result. Anyone with acute respiratory infection symptoms should consult a doctor," HSA said.
Singapore is currently in Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) reopening, which started on 16 May and will end on 13 June.
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