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Pilot of Antigen Rapid Tests for Quicker Detection of COVID-19 Infection Among Migrant Workers

  1. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and Ministry of Health (MOH) are piloting the use of antigen rapid tests, as part of the Rostered Routine Testing (RRT) of migrant workers. Under the RRT, migrant workers are tested every 14 days1 using the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test. The antigen rapid test will be used as an additional test on the seventh day to complement the PCR test on the 14th day. This means that workers will be tested on a seven-day cycle during the pilot. The pilot started on 18 October 2020 and will run for a period of four weeks.
  2. The pilot will involve 1,000 migrant workers residing at SCM Tuas Lodge dormitory. The benefit of the antigen rapid test is that results can be obtained within half an hour even though it is less accurate than PCR tests, which take at least a day for results to be returned. Migrant workers who test positive can be isolated immediately and conveyed to a medical facility for a confirmatory PCR test. This quick action will reduce the risk of infection transmission to fellow residents. Fewer numbers of close contacts will need to be quarantined, thus minimising work disruptions for workers and employers. 
  3. The Assurance, Care and Engagement (ACE) Group, in consultation with MOH, will evaluate the effectiveness of the antigen rapid test pilot and assess its suitabiilty to be incorporated into the RRT.

FOOTNOTE

  1. Since June 2020, workers staying in dormitories and workers in the Construction, Marine Shipyard and Process sectors and personnel who go into the worksites, are required to undergo Rostered Routine Testing every 14 days.