Dedicated testing facility to be set up at Changi Airport
There are plans to set up a dedicated Covid-19 testing facility at Changi Airport in the coming months, Minister for Transport Ong Ye Kung said in Parliament yesterday, adding that testing is the key to unlocking air travel.
"With Covid-19 around for a while, the emerging international practice is to get tested before travel, no different from us going through security and having our bags checked before we board a plane," he said.
There is already a facility at the airport which can swab up to 10,000 passengers a day.
Mr Ong said that with high-sensitivity tests, Singapore can filter out the virus at the border, or before the traveller boards the plane, and this would significantly lessen the risk of importing and spreading the virus here.
"In other words, on a selective basis, we can open up our border, do away with Stay-Home Notice(s), which is a big deterrent to travel, and replace (those) with tests."
Mr Ong noted that Singapore could conduct only about 2,000 tests daily in March, and they had to be reserved for critical public health purposes.
Today, more than 27,000 individuals are tested daily, and the country is on track to conduct 40,000 tests a day by next month.
To give this a further boost, Singapore will tap the private sector to develop commercial testing capacity.
Part of the increased testing capacity will be allocated to test air travellers.
Mr Ong said testing technology is advancing, with promising tests offering a quicker turnaround while maintaining acceptable test sensitivity.
He cited the Resolute test kit developed by DSO National Laboratories and A*Star that halves the time needed to process and analyse patient samples in the lab from 21/2 hours to between one and 11/2 hours.
He added there are trials for less intrusive tests using deep throat saliva, and efforts to develop rapid test kits, such as antigen and breathalyser tests, that can deliver results on the spot in a few minutes. - ADELINE TAN