SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Health (MOH) will extend subsidies for Zika testing to all Singaporeans with symptoms of the infection, not just those who live, work or study in the affected areas. Suspected Zika cases will also no longer be isolated pending test results.
In a media statement on Monday (Sep 5), MOH said: "As more cases are found in other parts of Singapore, testing will no longer be focused on the clusters only, and we will provide a subsidy for the test by the public sector laboratories". It gave details as follows:
- Subsidised patients at public healthcare institutions will pay a subsidised rate of $60 if they have Zika symptoms regardless of where they live, work or study. Patients who need the test but cannot afford it can approach medical social workers for assistance, such as from Medifund.
- Private patients at public healthcare institutions, as well as patients at private clinics and private hospitals will pay the full cost of S$150 for the Zika test.
- Doctors will continue to make the clinical judgment on whether it is necessary to test individuals for Zika.
(Chart: Ministry of Health)
The Zika virus has been linked to birth defects like microcephaly, and MOH added that pregnant women will remain a special group to whom it will make Zika tests more affordable and accessible.
MOH said doctors will continue to make the clinical judgment whether testing of Zika is necessary. For those who have Zika symptoms or whose male partner is Zika-positive, public sector laboratories will continue to extend free Zika tests to patients at the public healthcare institutions, as well as those at private hospitals and clinics, it said.
The Health Ministry added that for those who are not pregnant, confirming a Zika infection generally does not have an impact on the clinical management, which is currently focused on relieving symptoms. However, confirmation is useful in directing vector control efforts, it added.