COVID-19: Singapore’s breathalyser-type diagnostic test in prototype stage

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October 22, 2020 3:52 PM

Results of these tests are out within 30 minutes and tests can be conducted at the event venue, or at an off-site testing facility, the report said.

So far 4,74,054 people have tested positive for the infection in the state, according to government officials.

Singapore’s breathalyser-type diagnostic test kit for COVID-19, which provides results in under a minute, is now in its prototype stage, a media report said on Thursday.

It has so far achieved an accuracy rate of more than 90 per cent during a pilot clinical trial involving 180 patients at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases, The Straits Times reported.

Meanwhile, antigen rapid tests are also being piloted in Singapore, where participants in certain mass events have to obtain a negative result before they can enter.

Results of these tests are out within 30 minutes and tests can be conducted at the event venue, or at an off-site testing facility, the report said.

Separately, a global accreditation framework for COVID-19 “vaccination passports” to allow for international travel is something that several health authorities, including Singapore’s, are looking at, it reported.

However, this will require a lot more study, given how new the coronavirus is. Questions that need further discussion include the nature of the vaccine, how long immunity would last and if this will apply to recovered individuals.

Currently, the only vaccination certificate applicable for global travel is for yellow fever. The vaccination provides lifelong immunity.

This topic of vaccination passports was among the slew of issues discussed at a webinar on Wednesday titled ‘COVID-19 In Asia Pacific – Border Control Policy And The Path To Reopening’.

Organised by the National University of Singapore’s Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, the webinar convened a panel of seven speakers from around the region.

They included Swiss Ambassador to Singapore Fabrice Filliez and World Health Organisation South-east Asia regional adviser Manisha Shridhar, as well as representatives from New Zealand, Indonesia and Singapore. It was moderated by Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health dean Teo Yik Ying.

A key topic of discussion was how strictly a country should control its borders and how the impact of imported cases on healthcare resources could be managed. To this, the panelists said there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

Currently, many countries, including Singapore, adopt quarantine measures – the safest and most effective way to detect imported cases.

However, given the economic fallout from the strict control of borders globally, countries have sought to take a calibrated approach to ease restrictions.

Risk assessments need to be taken, and the panel touched on the topic of whether there would be a risk assessment framework to guide countries, regions and the world.

Such a framework would provide a very transparent way of decision making, with clear indicators of when a country can lift border control measures and the extent of relaxation of safety restrictions.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health (MOH) reported eight new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, seven of which were imported. All have been placed on stay-home notice (SHN).

The one local case was a resident of a dormitory for foreign workers, it said.

There was no coronavirus infection from the community for the fourth consecutive day.

Singapore has a total of 57,941 COVID-19 cases to date.

The 12 imported cases reported on Wednesday returned or arrived from Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. They are under SHN.

Forty-three patients are still in hospital while 41 are recuperating at isolated community facilities from mild symptoms, said the MOH.

Two patients were discharged from hospital on Wednesday. In all, 57,821 have fully recovered from the disease.

By December, TraceTogether-only SafeEntry will be implemented at all popular venues currently requiring check-in, including workplaces, schools, malls, food and beverage outlets and hotels, Channel News Asia reported.

The move is vital as Singapore prepares to resume larger-scale events and further reopen its economy safely, said the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office this week.

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