Singapore explores more pervasive use of COVID-19 tests at the workplace
The Singapore government is aiming for COVID-19 testing to be “a way of life”, and are looking towards a more pervasive use of testing at workplaces, said members of the multi-ministry taskforce at a briefing on achieving COVID-19 resilience.
The government encourages workplaces to make regular testing a new norm, and as a key element of business continuity plans.
The authorities are also looking into the wider use of antigen rapid tests (ARTs) at workplaces as work-from-home arrangements wind down, with plans to roll these out further to the public.
The tripartite partners — comprising the Ministry of Manpower, the National Trades Union Congress and Singapore National Employers Federation — will be discussing further testing guidelines.
Routing testing using ARTs are already mandated for workers in higher-risk settings, such as gyms, eateries and workers in the construction, marine and process sectors. But the government is now encouraging everyone, including fully vaccinated individuals, to regularly self-test with ART kits.
From October 1, members of the public will be able to make appointments for testing at 20 “quick test centres”. Those who test positive through the self-paid fast and easy test (FET) or ART should then visit a Swab-and-Send Home Clinic for a government-funded Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test to confirm infection.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) will then follow up with those who receive a positive PCR test to ensure they receive the necessary medical care.
The latest measures are geared at “making testing a new norm and making testing more pervasive”, said Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, who also co-chairs the COVID-19 taskforce.
From September 8, social gatherings and interactions will also be prohibited at workplaces, MOH has announced. Additionally, employers will be required to put in place a maximum work-from-home requirement over a 14-day period, should one or more of their workers contract COVID-19 and have returned to the office.