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27 Aug 2021

27th Aug 2021

        COVID-19 testing remains a key enabler for the safe resumption of economic and social activities. Hence, we are enhancing our support for individuals and companies to enable self-testing and regular workplace testing. With a majority of the eligible population already vaccinated, we will be making adjustments to our vaccination administration system. We will close four out of 37 mass vaccination centres, and shift vaccination operations to our regular healthcare providers, Public Health Preparedness Clinics (PHPCs), mobile and home vaccination teams. This will improve the effectiveness of our outreach in line with the new situation.

Local Situation Update

2.      Our National Vaccination Programme has made good progress. As of 26 August 2021, 79% of our total population have completed the full regimen and we are on track to meeting our target of 80% by the end of August. 

3.      There has been an uptick in COVID-19 cases in the past four days. As at 26 August, the number of new local cases has increased from an average of 47.1 cases per day in the week before to 76.0 cases per day in the past week. Of the cases in the past week, 98.9% were asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic and did not need dedicated medical care. The Multi-Ministry Taskforce (MTF) is watching the situation closely to ensure that the number of cases with severe symptoms remain under control and do not strain our healthcare system. 

4.      We urge Singaporeans to self-regulate your social activities to help reduce potential transmission, conduct self-tests to monitor your own health, and to seek medical care early if you are exhibiting symptoms of acute respiratory infection, however minor.

Nationwide Distribution of Antigen Rapid Test (ART) Kits 

5.      As Singapore gradually transits to being a COVID-19 resilient nation, society will play an increasingly important role to manage the pandemic. A major aspect is to exercise personal responsibility to self-test and monitor our own health status. To support this, the Ministry of Health (MOH) will be distributing ART self-test kits to all residential households from 28 August to 27 September 2021, via SingPost. Each household will receive a package containing six ART self-test kits. 

6.      The Ministry of Education (MOE) and Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) will also be distributing ART kits from mid-September to all students and staff in ECDA-licensed preschools, MOE Kindergartens, Early Intervention centres[1], primary schools and Special Education schools (primary/junior sections). MOE/ECDA will be distributing three ART kits per student/staff.  This will be in addition to the nationwide distribution of ART kits.

7.      These distribution exercises are part of a broader strategy to step up our testing efforts. The MTF will be sharing more about this strategy in the coming week. 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.  

8.      In particular, self-testing with ART kits is a convenient and quick measure to give peace of mind to any individual worried about asymptomatic infection after possible contact with a positive case. This is also part of our personal and civic responsibility to ensure a safer community for all. 

9.      The list of ART self-test kits and instructions on how to use them are available at go.gov.sg/selftestART. If you require more ART self-test kits beyond what we have distributed, these are now widely and conveniently available for purchase at various community retail pharmacies, general retail shops as well as e-commerce platforms. 

Extending COVID-19 Testing Subsidies

10.      Even as we make our gradual transition to being a COVID-19 resilient nation, we must stay vigilant and be ready to quickly detect and isolate cases early in settings where big clusters can develop. To this end, the Government has required Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Rostered Routine Testing (RRT) and Fast and Easy Testing (FET) RRT of workers at higher risk of COVID-19 exposure and spread. These include workers who live in dormitories, work in the construction, marine and process, aviation, or maritime sectors, or work in settings with unmasked and vulnerable clients/ patrons, such as F&B establishments, personal care services, gyms and healthcare services. 

11.      The Government had previously extended the subsidy for mandatory PCR and FET RRT in these sectors until 30 September 2021. As we resume more activities, mandatory PCR and FET RRT will continue to play a key role in mitigating COVID-19 transmission risks in these sectors. The Government will therefore extend the subsidy for mandatory PCR and FET RRT for vaccinated workers until 31 December 2021.

12.      For unvaccinated workers, the MTF had previously announced additional testing requirements under the “Vaccinate or Regular Test” (VoRT) regime[2] from 1 October 2021. Under VoRT, unvaccinated workers are required to be tested twice a week at their own expense[3]. This will allow infections among them to be picked up quickly and treated early, as they are more likely to suffer severe illness if infected; and in the process it will also mitigate the risk of community transmission arising from the higher likelihood of infections among the unvaccinated. 

13.      Unvaccinated workers in the sectors where PCR or FET RRT are mandated will already be subject to regular testing under these regimes. These mandated tests will continue to be subsidised by the Government. So in such instances, the 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.  

14.      For the small group of workers who are medically ineligible for vaccines, the Government will continue to subsidise the costs of all their required tests (i.e. be it for the mandatory PCR/FET RRT or VoRT regimes) until 31 December 2021.

15.      Beyond 2021, employers and businesses should be prepared to factor in testing costs into their normal business operations. We will continue to review the testing subsidies to ensure they support our public health efforts, while sharing the costs equitably between taxpayers, employers and individuals.

16.      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. 

Closure of Selected Vaccination Centres

17.      With almost 80% of the population having completed their full vaccination regimen, the number of vaccinations per day has dropped sharply, to less than a quarter of its peak. We will therefore progressively reduce the number of mass Vaccination Centres. Instead, we will shift vaccination operations to more PHPCs, as well as mobile and home vaccination teams for the seniors. 

18.      By the end of September, four mass Vaccination Centres, namely Bukit Timah Community Club, Kolam Ayer Community Club, Marsiling Community Club and Yuhua Community Club will be closed. We will be ceasing new bookings for Marsiling Community Club and Kolam Ayer Community Club from 2 September, and Bukit Timah Community Club and Yuhua Community from 9 September. We will increase the number of PHPCs administering COVID-19 vaccinations from the 65 clinics today to more than 80 clinics in September.  

Working together towards COVID-19 resiliency

19.      Through the collective efforts of Singaporeans, we are confident that we will reach a state where we can live normally and safely with COVID-19 among us. We seek everyone’s continued cooperation to come forward for vaccination if you have not yet done so, seek medical care if feeling unwell, practise good hand hygiene, self-test regularly, and self-regulate social interactions at a restrained level. Together, we will be able to emerge stronger.


MINISTRY OF HEALTH
27 AUGUST 2021


1 Centres offering government funded programmes such as the Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children (EIPIC) and the Pilot for Private Intervention Providers (PPIP).
2 Announced by the Multi-Ministry Taskforce on 6 August 2021 and 13 August 2021.
3 Refer to the Advisory on COVID-19 Vaccination at the Workplace issued on 23 August 2021.