SINGAPORE: A second round of mandatory COVID-19 testing for residents and visitors of Block 506 Hougang Avenue 8 began on Friday (Jun 4) after the emergence of a new cluster of 13 infections.
Shop employees from seven other blocks in the area will also be tested after COVID-19 viral fragments were detected in wastewater samples, the Ministry of Health said on Thursday (Jun 3).
The swabbing exercise will take place over two days.
READ: Residents of Hougang HDB block to undergo 2nd round of COVID-19 testing after new cluster emerges
Long queues had already formed outside the test sites when CNA arrived at the scene at around 9am on Friday.
The swabs are being carried out at the void deck of Block 507 Hougang Avenue 8 and the tented pavilion at Block 685A Hougang Street 61.
The new round of testing aims to detect cases who were incubating the virus in the first round of testing and to prevent spread in the community, said MOH.
In an Instagram post on Thursday night, Member of Parliament for Aljunied Gerald Giam, who oversees the area, said his team had just conducted another round of late-night letter drops to share information about the latest swab operation.
He added that residents could contact him if they had any concerns or questions.
BUSINESSES BRACING FOR A DROP IN SALES
Businesses CNA spoke to said they are currently arranging for their employees to go for their tests in batches. However, they are also bracing themselves for a drop in sales.
Mr Leonard Ting, who owns a scooter repair shop at 684 Hougang Avenue 8, said his sales had dropped by 50 per cent when news of positive cases at Block 506 Hougang Avenue 8 first broke in May.
On some days, his shop served fewer than five customers.
“If this continues and there are more confirmed cases, this will really hurt our business,” he said.
“We used to have about 15 customers a day, but after the first round of testing, people were afraid and they wanted to stay away.”
Nearby Mr Ting’s shop, over at Block 681 Hougang Avenue 8, employees of Al-Falah Restaurant have increased the frequency of cleaning and sanitising to four times a day, up from two previously.
They have also been instructed to clean surfaces, such as those touched by customers, throughout the day.
Already hard-hit by tighter measures to control the growing number of community cases, Mr Mohamed Ansar Ali, the restaurant’s senior manager, said the stepped-up cleaning routine will give employees and customers a “peace of mind”.
“Our business has dropped by 70 per cent since Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) and we hardly see any customers,” he said.
“So when customers (notice the restaurant) is clean, maybe they will be more comfortable to buy from (us)."
VITAL TO IDENTIFY SYMPTOMATIC INDVIDUALS: PROF TAMBYAH
Professor Paul Tambyah, president of the Asia Pacific Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infection told CNA that the key from this round of testing is to identify symptomatic individuals.
“In reality, asymptomatic individuals or pre-symptomatic individuals can spread the virus, but symptomatic individuals spread the virus far more effectively than an asymptomatic individual, so people must be able to go and seek medical attention without fear of the impact of a quarantine or a stay-home notice,” he said.