New advisories and guidelines for labs after false positives found
Testing capacity lowered to allow lab in question to recalibrate its test kits
The Ministry of Health (MOH) has put together advisories and guidelines for laboratories here, after a recent review uncovered 33 cases that were wrongly identified as positive.
On Sunday, the ministry revealed there was an apparatus calibration issue for one of the labs' test kits, resulting in 33 cases falsely testing positive.
The cases include a 43-year-old Singaporean, who was a radiographer at the Singapore Expo community care facility.
He was announced to be infected last Thursday and was warded at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases.
A majority of the other false positive cases are believed to be foreign workers.
During a briefing and press conference with the multi-ministry task force yesterday, MOH's director of medical services Kenneth Mak said Singapore's testing capacity has been lowered to allow the lab in question to recalibrate its test kits.
Asked if any of the false positive cases were foreign workers who were sent to community care centres with the rest of their infected counterparts, he said he did not have the information on hand.
The New Paper has reached out to MOH for clarifications on this.
Associate Professor Mak said the lab in question is expected to complete its recalibration process in the next few days and will then continue testing cases here, bringing Singapore's testing capacity back to its current of almost 8,000 tests daily.
He added that aside from the new advisories and guidelines, all such labs are now required to perform the necessary confirmatory tests before the results are released.
"These are some of the processes currently being put in place as part of the quality assurance for all the laboratories that will allow us then to have continued confidence the testing is done properly and the results coming out from the tests are correct as well," he said.
Singapore has done more than 175,000 swab tests for Covid-19, and is looking to ramp up its testing capabilities to 40,000 tests daily.
MOH said it is looking at new testing technologies to do so, and has already piloted pooled testing in the recently completed testing of nursing home staff.
Prof Mak said Singapore is not the only country looking to ramp up its testing capacity, and so there is inevitably competition for test kits and resources.
"This is the reason why we want to diversify where we would procure our various test kits and resources," he said.
He revealed that while some test kits and re-agents are sourced locally, others are sourced from around the world, including China and Korea.
But he added this was not just for the short term.
"These are some of the strategies we have to make sure we have sufficient test capacity not only for our current needs, but in continuing to expand that capacity for our future needs as well."