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Toh Guan Dormitory residents to be tested for COVID-19 more often in pilot to detect cases earlier

Toh Guan Dormitory residents to be tested for COVID-19 more often in pilot to detect cases earlier

A worker gets his temperature checked at Toh Guan Dormitory on Monday, Apr 6, 2020. (Photo: Try Sutrisno Foo)

SINGAPORE: Residents of Toh Guan Dormitory will undergo additional routine testing for COVID-19 as part of a pilot programme to understand how more frequent testing can enable earlier detection of asymptomatic cases.  

Currently, all migrant workers living in dormitories undergo rostered routine testing every 14 days. 

Over a period of four weeks from Friday (Sep 25), authorities will pilot an additional round of testing on top of the bi-weekly routine for residents of Toh Guan Dormitory. 

“This will effectively increase the testing frequency to a seven-day cycle,” said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the Ministry of Health (MOH) in a joint press release on Wednesday.

“New infections can then be detected earlier, and the spread contained more quickly.”

READ: Employers must ensure that workers undergo routine COVID-19 swab test by Sep 5

The pilot will be conducted within the dormitory to minimise the impact on the workers' work schedule, said MOM and MOH. 

They added that a “more comfortable” method of swabbing will be used. Instead of the usual nasopharyngeal swab, a new oropharynx/mid-turbinate nasal method of swabbing will be done.

The ministries also said that with the earlier detection of new infections, MOM might not require an entire block of a dormitory to be quarantined if there is a COVID-19 case, as long as safe living measures are complied with.

“This will enable a more targeted quarantine approach that will minimise the disruption to workers and employers," the added.

The 14-day rostered routine testing remains “the key hallmark” of MOM’s COVID-19 strategy in migrant worker dormitories, Second Minister for Manpower Tan See Leng said earlier in September.

He added that it was “very definitive” in identifying workers who have contracted the coronavirus.  

As of last Friday, a total of 5,700 workers were said to be unable to resume work as they had yet to undergo the mandatory testing.

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Source: CNA/aa(gs)

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