SINGAPORE — All residential households in Singapore will soon each receive a package of six antigen rapid test (ART) self-test kits, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Friday (27 August).
Such kits will be distributed by the ministry from Saturday to 27 September via SingPost.
In addition, the Ministry of Education (MOE) and Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) will be distributing such kits from mid-September to all students and staff in ECDA-licensed preschools, MOE kindergartens, early intervention centres, primary schools, as well as primary and junior sections in special education
Each student or staff member will get three ART kits, said the MOH.
"These distribution exercises are part of a broader strategy to step up our testing efforts. The MTF (COVID-19 multi-ministry taskforce) will be sharing more about this strategy in the coming week," the ministry added.
"As we become a very highly vaccinated country, we will need to shift our emphasis to testing and surveillance, including self-testing, as an effective means to control the pandemic proactively."
Separately, the MOH said that four out of 37 mass vaccination centres here will be closed by end-September: Marsiling, Kolam Ayer, Bukit Timah, and Yuhua community clubs.
New vaccination bookings at Marsiling and Kolam Ayer community clubs will be ceased from 2 September, while those at Bukit Timah and Yuhua will be ceased from 9 September.
Vaccination operations will instead be shifted to regular healthcare providers, public health preparedness clinics (PHPCs), mobile and home vaccination teams, in line with the new situation in Singapore, said the MOH.
The ministry added that it will increase the number of PHPCs administering COVID-19 vaccinations from the current 65 to over 80 clinics in September.
The MOH said it will also further extend the subsidy for mandatory polymerase chain reaction (PCR) rostered routine testing (RRT) as well as the fast and easy testing (FET) RRT for vaccinated workers in high-risk sectors till 31 December. It was previously extended till 30 September.
These include workers who live in dormitories, work in the construction, marine, and process, aviation, or maritime sectors, as well as those who work in settings with unmasked and vulnerable clients or patrons, such as food and beverage establishments, personal care services, gyms, and healthcare services.
For unvaccinated workers, the multi-ministry taskforce had previously announced additional testing requirements under the “vaccinate or regular test” (VoRT) regime from 1 October.
Under the regime, unvaccinated workers are required to be tested twice a week at their own expense.
Unvaccinated workers in the sectors where PCR or FET RRT are mandated would already be subject to regular testing under these regimes, said the MOH.
This means that such unvaccinated workers will only need to pay for the additional tests that are needed to meet the twice-a-week testing requirement under the VoRT, it added.
The costs of all required tests will continue to be subsidised for workers who are medically ineligible for COVID-19 vaccines until 31 December.
"Beyond 2021, employers and businesses should be prepared to factor in testing costs into their normal business operations," said the MOH, adding that it will continue to review such subsidies.
"We strongly encourage all employers to facilitate vaccination of your employees. A fully vaccinated workforce ensures a safe workplace and creates a safe environment for everyone," the ministry reiterated.
As of Thursday, 79 per cent of Singapore's population have completed their full vaccination regimen, or received two doses of COVID-19 vaccines, and 83 per cent have received at least one dose.
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