Singapore reported 657 of COVID-19 new cases as of noon on Sunday (May 3), taking the country’s total to 18,205.
“The number of cases amongst migrant workers has been fluctuating in recent days due to clearance of backlogged cases by one laboratory,” said the Ministry of Health (MOH) in its daily update of preliminary figures.
The ministry said it is working with the laboratory to stabilise its operations.
The majority of the new infections are work permit holders residing in foreign worker dormitories, MOH said. Ten cases are Singapore citizens or permanent residents.
COVID-19 new cases
More information on the cases will be released on Sunday night, the ministry added, saying it is still “working through the details of the cases”.
Ministry of Health (MOH) had earlier provided information that detecting COVID-19 new cases remains a key strategy to contain the virus.
It had reported that Singapore has testing capability of 2,900 tests per day early in April. As of end April, the capability has been ramped up to 8,000 tests per day.
There will be continued efforts to increase testing capability.
Purposes of testing
Testing is carried out for three key purposes.
First, for diagnosis in order to provide the appropriate treatment early for persons who are unwell.
Second, for active case finding in order to identity infected individuals early and isolate them. Contact tracing around confirmed cases allows us to ring-fence any clusters, and prevent further transmissions.
And third, for surveillance purposes, in particular of groups at higher risk of contracting or transmitting the disease.
This is done systematically across our hospitals, polyclinics and general practitioner clinics to detect signs of community spread and to pick up unlinked cases.
Focused testing on specific sectors
Foreign worker dormitories are a point of focus due to the rising numbers of COVID-19 new cases. Currently, about 3,000 tests are done daily on foreign workers. To date, about 21,000 workers have been tested.
However, not all dormitories will be tested at the same time, if any worker were to report sick or show ARI symptoms, we will immediately pull aside and isolate the worker from his room-mates, and ensure that he receives the necessary medical care.
The urgent priority is to test migrant workers who have moved out of the dormitories but are continuing to work in essential services. This is to reduce the risk of transmission in workplaces and to the wider community.
Additionally, Singapore is conducting more tests to protect vulnerable groups. For instance, we are testing the staff at nursing homes where there is close contact with seniors, as well as healthcare workers and front-line officers who have regular contact with confirmed cases. This will help to ensure that they continue to stay healthy, and receive medical treatment promptly if required.
Testing is not the solution
MOH has taken steps to continue building up our testing capacity over the coming weeks and months. Even as we do so, we will continue to prioritise our existing testing capacity based on public health considerations.
While testing is important, it has to be part of a broader strategy to fight COVID-19 and rising COVID-19 new cases. Testing alone cannot substitute for other important measures like safe distancing and infection control.
Individual responsibility in upholding good personal hygiene, minimising contact, and seeing a doctor immediately when sick are all critical aspects of the overall strategy.
Together, Singaporeans can slow down transmissions, beat the virus, and emerge stronger after the crisis.
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VereChip™ lab-on-a-chip produced locally
Accuron Medtech, a Temasek-backed company, has divested from Veredus Laboratories, which produces COVID-19 test kits which have been in use at checkpoints in Singapore to detect COVID-19 new cases.
The size of the deal was not disclosed, but market sources said that Veredus could be worth around US$83 million, which is the amount that Luminex paid for molecular diagnostics firm Nanosphere in 2016.
Goichi Tsuchihashi, director and managing executive officer for Sekisui Medical’s diagnostics business unit, said: “The acquisition of Veredus is an important step in realising our mid-term business plan, a focus of which is to enter into new, important markets in Asia which have high growth potential in the diagnostics industry.”