On February 16, about 3,500 individuals took advantage of free antigen rapid tests at designated test centers. The event was the first day of a new initiative that aims to ease the strain on healthcare facilities.
For COVID-19 patients, the Ministry of Health has announced that from February 16 to March 15, they can visit a designated test center to get their free self-administered antigen rapid test (ART).
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In addition, for people who are three and older, the tests are available for free. However, children aged three to 12 years old must be accompanied by a parent or guardian who is 21 years or older, the Straits Times reported.
This means that a person’s household helper may need to help children or older adults administer the self-test if they are unable to do so.
Many people who visited test centers on Wednesday cited various reasons why they went there. These include job requirements, shorter queues, the free tests, and getting their results officially recorded.
Dr. Tan Tze Lee, an associate professor and president of the College of Family Physicians Singapore (CFPS), said that the feedback from doctors has been positive regarding the MOH’s move.
“The surge was particularly significant over the past few days and this has resulted in increased waiting time for patients in clinics,” he noted, adding that the majority of the patients who come to the clinics for the tests have mild symptoms.
“The diversion of low-risk and asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic patients to QTCs and CTCs will alleviate unnecessary burden on front-line healthcare workers across the various settings, including private clinics, polyclinics and emergency care. This will enable the clinics to better provide medical care to the patients in need of medical care,” said Prof Tan.
He added that the objective of the new initiative is to improve the quality of life for people with chronic diseases using ART results in lieu of medical certificates.
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