SINGAPORE: Some of the rapid COVID-19 test kits under evaluation are showing "promising" results, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong on Monday (Oct 5), adding that Singapore hopes to deploy alternative testing methods in the months ahead.
Implementing rapid testing is one of the ways Singapore can resume more activities, he noted.
"Increased testing facilitated by such rapid test kits, coupled with strengthened containment efforts including contact tracing, and adherence to appropriate safe management measures, have potential to allow us to resume more activities, including travel-related industries and larger-scale events," said Mr Gan in a written parliamentary reply.
"We hope to be able to deploy some of these alternative tests in the months ahead, as we work out practical ways to incorporate such rapid testing into our national COVID-19 response."
Mr Gan was responding to a question from Member of Parliament Sitoh Yih Pin, who asked for an estimated timeline as to when a "viable" rapid COVID-19 test kit will become available, and whether it will allow more activities to resume.
Currently, the main mode of COVID-19 testing and sampling in Singapore is known as the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test.
Mr Gan said that as new testing technologies become available, the Ministry of Health (MOH) "actively evaluates" these alternative tests to ensure they can be deployed in a safe and effective manner.
"The key evaluation considerations include - the combined clinical performance of the test and sampling method, ease of administration, throughput, total turnaround time when using the test, and cost," he added.
Mr Gan cautioned that while any testing can help to reduce transmission risks, it is not foolproof, as a negative test does not mean that a person is free from COVID-19.
"For example, an individual who may be incubating the virus might not be picked up at the point of test," he said.
"We therefore need to combine testing with contact tracing and other public health measures."