Covid-19 testing for Chinatown workers sees good turnout
Two-day exercise is for those in frequent contact with public during Chinese New Year run-up
The two-day Covid-19 surveillance testing for workers in Chinatown was off to a strong start yesterday, with more than 70 people seen waiting to get swabbed at lunchtime.
When The Straits Times visited around 1pm, the queue was snaking out of the Kreta Ayer People's Theatre where the tests were being conducted.
Staff wearing personal protective equipment were conducting registration and taking the temperatures of those in queue.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) had said on Jan 22 that free testing would be offered to stallholders, shop owners and food and beverage workers, as well as those engaged in food delivery services in and around Chinatown.
These groups are expected to interact more frequently with the public in the period ahead of Chinese New Year, said MOH.
Although the polymerase chain reaction test is not compulsory, workers were strongly encouraged to get tested.
All 10 workers who spoke to ST said they knew about the Covid-19 testing as staff from government agencies had visited the area and given out fliers, which stated that the testing would run from 10am to 4pm yesterday and today.
The test results would be sent to them by SMS within 24 hours.
They can continue working while waiting for the results.
Mr John Khoo, 66, who owns a stall selling clothes at Chinatown Complex, said: "I think this is a good opportunity to get tested.
"I want to have peace of mind when my four young grandchildren and children come over to visit during Chinese New Year.
"If I protect myself, I can protect them too. I'm fine with queueing an hour if it means being safe."
Others were concerned about the crowds during the festivities.
ST had reported earlier that about 300 people were seen at the wet market at Chinatown Complex last Tuesday stocking up on ingredients for popular seafood and steamboat dishes.
Mrs Ellen Toon, 69, who sells pork in the wet market, said: "I will feel more assured going home to my family knowing that I got tested. If it's negative, I will feel much more relieved.
"We face so many people during the Chinese New Year period, and we don't know who is safe and who isn't. It's better to be safe than sorry."
But some, like Madam Wan Wai Ying, found that the queue to get tested was too long.
"I did not have time to queue because no one would help to man the stall," said the 66-year-old, who runs a food stand selling Chinese New Year cakes in Smith Street.
"If the queue is not too long tomorrow, I will get myself tested."