DIY Covid-19 Test Kits to Be Distributed to All Homes in Singapore
THIS STORY WAS FIRST PUBLISHED ON JUNE 17, 2021, AND UPDATED ON JULY 27, 2021.
As Singapore steps up their Covid-19 testing capabilities and works towards the day when the virus becomes endemic, the Government will begin to distribute Covid-19 self-test kits to all households progressively.
"We're starting with those who live near markets where large clusters have been identified. We will progressively scale up and distribute to everyone in Singapore," said Finance Minister Lawrence Wong in Parliament on Monday (July 26).
He added that Singapore will also be rolling out other ways of testing for Covid-19 such as using breathalyser tests in Parliament and conducting wastewater surveillance in estates.
The Covid-19 antigen rapid test (ART) kits for self-testing that will be distributed to households are the same ones that went on sale for the public at pharmacies around the city last month.
ART test kits detect viral proteins in nasal swab samples of infected individuals and usually work best in the early stages of infection.
These tests, which can produce results in less than 20 minutes, can be done by people who are worried that they may have Covid-19. It has, so far, seriously benefited groups of people such as frontline workers who need to test themselves more frequently.
Currently, four self-test kits have received interim authorisation from the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) to be sold and distributed to the public.
These are the Abbott PanBio Covid-19 Antigen Self-test, QuickVue At-Home OTC Covid-19 Test, SD Biosensor SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Self-Test Nasal, and SD Biosensor Standard Q Covid-19 Ag Home Test.
If you are looking forward to receiving your test kit or if you are planning to purchase a kit for yourself, here's everything you need to know.
Where can I get the self-test kits?
Singapore will be progressively sending these Covid-19 test kits to all households around the country. You may also have received one if you have come into contact with an infected Covid-19 patient or if you visited a cluster location.
If you want to purchase one yourself, you can do so at selected Unity, Watsons and Guardian outlets around the country.
The DIY test kits will be dispensed by pharmacists at these locations which means you will need to consult them before you can get a test kit. However, you will not need a doctor's prescription.
Training has also been provided to pharmacists as to how to use the test correctly so make sure you ask them questions if you are unsure.
How much will the test kits cost?
The test kits that will be sent to all households will be free. However, if you chose to purchase them, they will be sold for between $10 to $13 as per the Ministry of Health's recommended guidelines and depending on the size of the pack purchased.
How do these test kits work?
If you are using a test kit, you should first prepare your nasal sample with the buffer and tube provided. Make sure you read all instructions and check with your pharmacist if you are unclear.
Then, use your sample with the test device and read the results.
Remember that instructions may vary with different tests so you need to read the instructions carefully.
If the test is being used on a child under 14, an adult should step in to help collect the nasal samples and to test them.
What if I test positive?
ART test kits can achieve a sensitivity of about 80 per cent for cases with higher viral loads and a specificity range of 97 to 100 per cent, according to the HSA. This means that they are pretty spot on when it comes to correctly detect Covid-19 in an individual.
In fact, it is more likely that you might get a false negative especially if you do not use it correctly. If you are concerned about this, consider repeating the test and stay vigilant.
If you test positive, immediately go to a Swab and Send Home Public Health Preparedness Clinic (SASH PHPC) to get your result confirmed with a PCR test.
You will then have to self-isolate until you receive a negative PCR test result.
Regardless, should you have any symptoms of Covid-19, you should visit a doctor for a full diagnosis and PCR instead of simply relying on an ART self-test kit.