Singapore on track to do 40,000 COVID-19 tests a day in coming months: Lawrence Wong

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Home Team Science and Technology Agency (HTX) scientists demonstrating how the new COVID-19 test kit is used to detect the virus on 5 March 2020. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)
Home Team Science and Technology Agency (HTX) scientists demonstrating how the new COVID-19 test kit is used to detect the virus on 5 March 2020. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — Singapore is on track to increase the number of COVID-19 tests to 40,000 a day in the coming months, said Lawrence Wong, co-chair of the multi-ministry taskforce on Tuesday (9 June).

Currently, Singapore is doing about 13,000 tests a day, compared with about 2,000 tests daily in early April, added Wong, who was delivering the second of the national broadcasts by Cabinet ministers on plans to lead Singapore in a post COVID-19 world.

The expansion in testing is due to the procurement of more test-kits, building of more laboratory capacity, and recruiting and training more laboratory technicians as well as personnel to carry out swabs and take blood samples.

“This expanded testing capacity is critical. It means that we can test higher-risk groups more extensively. We can also do more surveillance testing in the community, including those with respiratory symptoms. This will give us a faster and more accurate sense of the number of cases circulating undetected,” said Wong in a televised speech on CNA.

Singapore’s ability to control the infection during the re-opening period is crucial. It has increased the speed of contact tracing by developing new systems since the circuit breaker, the National Development Minister said.

The use of technology, such as the SafeEntry check-in/check-out system and the TraceTogether app, is helping to speed up contact tracing. Singapore is also developing wearable Bluetooth devices, which can work without a phone and can be worn or carried around.

“I seek everyone’s understanding and co-operation. Please use these important tools – they will help us slow down the spread of the virus and save lives,” Wong said.

Besides the standard testing methods, Singapore is deploying other means of detection.

“For example, we are extracting waste water from manholes to test for viral fragments. This provides an additional indicator to tell us if a specific group, such as those living in a dormitory, has infected people amongst them,” Wong said.

Singapore is also using serology tests, which help to identify those who were previously infected but may have since recovered and developed antibodies to fight the virus.

Wong said that aggressive testing and contact tracing will improve Singapore’s ability to control the spread of the virus and allow business and life to resume progressively.

To date, Singapore has 38,514 COVID-19 cases, including 25 fatalities.

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