Covid-19 PCR testing services available from Dec 1
Companies and individuals who need to be tested will be able to do so at approved providers
Any company or individual who requires a Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test will be able to procure the service from approved providers from next month.
This is in line with efforts to make testing more accessible to support a wider range of needs as Singapore resumes more activities, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said at a multi-ministry task force press conference yesterday.
There are currently around 600 general practitioner clinics and private healthcare providers that can provide Covid-19 PCR tests.
Mr Gan said this will help those who need to get their pre-departure testing done, and they no longer need to seek approval from the Ministry of Health (MOH) for such tests.
He said: "We know that timely Covid-19 testing, when complemented with safe distancing and safe management measures, is a formidable weapon against the pandemic.
"Testing is therefore a critical enabler and key strategy in our fight against Covid-19."
MOH said in a press release that it will continue to increase the number of clinics and providers who can administer the tests.
Currently, those who are not unwell and who do not need to meet testing requirements, such as pre-departure and pre-event testing, are unable to request for a Covid-19 test.
The test remains free for those who are assessed, such as by a general practitioner, to be in need of it.
Mr Gan also said the Government is in discussion with laboratories and suppliers on fine-tuning the cost of the test.
In addition to the cost of the tests, there is also significant set-up cost involved, for example, taking necessary infection control measures at testing stations, employing trained people to administer the test, all of which will add to the cost.
He said: "So the test itself has a certain cost, and we are discussing with the supplier on whether we can make it more affordable as time goes by."
Mr Gan also added that the authorities are continuing to conduct pilots on pre-event testing by using antigen rapid tests.
These tests will allow more large-scale and higher-risk activities to resume in a safer manner.
Mr Gan said: "We will continue to pilot different workflows in varied settings, such as at more business-to-business events, live performances as well as spectator sports, and pre-event testing can form part of our defence strategy against Covid-19."
Pre-departure PCR test a must for visitors from higher-risk nations
All travellers from higher-risk countries will have to take a pre-departure Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test within 72 hours before they depart for Singapore.
This new requirement will come into effect fromnext Wednesday, the multi-ministry task force said yesterday.
It will not apply to Singapore citizens or permanent residents, or visitors from lower-risk countries such as Brunei and New Zealand.
Previously, the pre-departure PCR testing requirement applied only to people with recent travel history to India, Indonesia and the Philippines.
The Ministry of Health said this is a risk-managed approach in border controls, as different countries and regions are at different stages of controlling the spread of Covid-19.
Speaking on the reopening of borders, Education Minister Lawrence Wong, who is also the co-chair of the task force, said: "This is an existential issue for Singapore because of our small size and our need to connect to the world. It's not just for economic activities, but also for our social and community needs.
"We must allow families to reunite and facilitate foreign domestic workers taking care of our loved ones."
Those from lower-risk countries are currently required to take a Covid-19 test upon arrival in lieu of a stay-home notice (SHN), or required to serve a seven-day SHN with a Covid-19 test done at the end.
Travellers from the higher-risk countries category will have to serve their 14-day SHN.
These travellers will serve their SHN either at home or at dedicated facilities, and will be tested at the end of their notice.
Mr Wong said Singapore is prepared to consider opening its borders further, provided it is safe and with appropriate safeguards.
He added that the risk of imported and local cases is being monitored carefully as Singapore moves towards phase three.
"Today, one cryptic case within our community may not have much of a chance to spawn a large cluster, but imagine as we enter phase three with a lot more activities within our community... the risk of clusters forming will go up.
"It is inevitable, as we have seen in countries around the world." - ADELINE TAN