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Extra COVID-19 testing at Toh Guan Dormitory in pilot to detect new infections earlier

Toh Guan Dormitory at Toh Guan Road East. (PHOTO: Screenshot/Google Maps)
Toh Guan Dormitory at Toh Guan Road East. (PHOTO: Screenshot/Google Maps)

SINGAPORE — Additional routine COVID-19 testing will be undertaken at Toh Guan Dormitory, in a pilot to understand how more frequent testing will enable earlier detection of asymptomatic cases among migrant workers.

In a joint media release on Wednesday (23 September), the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and Ministry of Health (MOH) said that over a four-week period from Friday, residents in the dormitory will undergo an additional round of testing.

This is on top of the existing 14-day rostered routine testing for the migrant workers.

“This will effectively increase the testing frequency to a seven-day cycle. New infections can then be detected earlier, and the spread contained more quickly,” the ministries said in the media release.

Benefits of earlier detection of new infections

With the earlier detection of new infections, MOM may not require the entire block of the dormitory to be quarantined should there be a COVID-19 positive case, as long as safe-living measures are complied with.

This will enable a more targeted quarantine approach that will minimise the disruption to workers and employers.

To lessen the impact on the work schedule of the migrant workers, the pilot will be conducted within the dormitory.

Instead of the usual nasopharyngeal swab (in which a rotating swab is inserted to the back of the nasal cavity), a new oropharynx/mid-turbinate nasal method of swabbing (in which a swab is inserted to the back of the throat) will be used. This method of swabbing will be more comfortable for the workers, the ministries said.

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