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PM Lee, MPs undergo COVID-19 breath tests before Parliament

PM Lee, MPs undergo COVID-19 breath tests before Parliament

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong taking a COVID-19 breathalyser test before Parliament Sitting on Jul 26, 2021. (Photo: Ministry of Communications and Information)

SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and several Members of Parliament underwent COVID-19 tests before attending the sitting on Monday (Jul 26). 

The breath test is developed by Nanyang Technological University (NTU) spin-off company Silver Factory Technology and only takes minutes, according to the MPs who posted about the tests on Facebook.

Mr Lee said the process was fast, simple and non-invasive.

“I breathed into a special tube for 10 seconds, which was then closed, disinfected and placed into a reader for analysis. The whole process only took two minutes. I’m sure many would prefer this to a swab test!” he said on Facebook. 

The test has been registered with the Health Sciences Authority and is currently undergoing validation, added Mr Lee. 

Mr Seah Kian Peng (PAP-Marine Parade) said the user experience "was many times better" than the other antigen rapid tests (ART) he had done before. 

"It is invented by a Singapore company (and) certainly made me proud as I took the test," said Mr Seah on his Facebook, adding that he tested negative for the coronavirus.  

"For sure, (the) cost of the test kit will have to come down but with economies of scale, I am sure it will," he said. 

(From left to right) Second Minister for Finance Indranee Rajah, MP Edward Chia and MP Seah Kian Peng. (Photos: Facebook)

Mr Edward Chia (PAP-Holland Bukit Timah) said the COVID-19 test took three minutes, while Second Minister for Finance Indranee Rajah said the test took 10 minutes. 

The breath test was "an innovative solution that will benefit many other countries in the world too", said Mr Chia. 

"Kudos to the team for creating such a meaningful impact by improving our global testing capacity to fight this virus!" he added. 

READ: Parliament implements COVID-19 measures including safe distancing

Mr Ang Wei Neng (PAP-West Coast) also said the test was "easy and fuss-free". 

HOW IT WORKS

The breathalyser, named TracieX, contains a sensor chip that "traps and intensifies certain key molecules in the breath", said NTU on its website. 

According to the school, more than 1,400 people have been tested with the breathalyser at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases, Changi Airport Terminal 1, as well as two hospitals in Malaysia.

A person has to first blow into the breathalyser for 10 seconds, and then cap it shut. 

The breathalyser will be disinfected to avoid cross-contamination before being inserted into a portable reading device. (Photo: Facebook/Edward Chia Bing Hui)

The breathalyser will then be disinfected to avoid cross-contamination before being inserted into a portable reading device. 

By analysing the breath volatile organic compounds captured on the breathalyser’s chip, the device can tell whether a person is infected with COVID-19 within two minutes, said the website. 

A negative reading is seen on a computer screen. (Photo: Facebook/Edward Chia Bing Hui)

"This test is quick, non-invasive, and has a 95 per cent success rate in detecting positive COVID-19 cases, making it suitable for mass-testing sites such as airports and large-scale events." 

Last year, it was announced that safe distancing measures were implemented in Parliament in efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19. 

The measures include having MPs seated at spaced intervals within the chamber and in the galleries, taking refreshments in different groups to reduce mingling and using separate restrooms.

BOOKMARK THIS: Our comprehensive coverage of the novel coronavirus and its developments

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Source: CNA/ad(ac)/zl

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