Anyone Above 13 With Acute Respiratory Infection to Be Tested for COVID-19 from 1 July


With the ongoing election fever, you might be wondering, Acute Respiratory Infection? Is that a new political party?

I won’t blame you. Your Facebook newsfeed is probably filled with images of Low Thia Kiang and Nicole Seah today, so you’d probably have forgotten that Lawrence Wong is still holding virtual press conferences to update us about the fight against COVID-19, because while he’s no longer an MP now, he’s still part of the task force to combat COVID-19.

So, what’s new?

A long, long time ago, swab tests were reserved for people who had a chance of contracting the coronavirus, like people who’ve just come back from China or if you’re a close contact with someone with COVID-19.

But that changed last month, when more tests were done—even to healthy individuals selectively, like those who work in essential services.

Earlier this month, seniors aged 65 years and above, healthcare workers, and staff and older students in education institutions who went to a doctor and are diagnosed with acute respiratory infections would be tested, too.

This led to the detection of a few cases, including a few students.


Then, last week, it was announced that the tests would be extended to anyone above 45 years old who are diagnosed with acute respiratory infections in a clinic.

Soon, it’ll be to anyone above 13 years old.

But if you’ve downloaded our app, you wouldn’t be surprised at this development.

Goal: Test Everyone Who’s Diagnosed with Acute Respiratory Infection When He or She First Visits a Doctor

Yes, that is the ultimate goal, and needless to say, with today’s announcement, we’re getting closer to the goal.

From 1 July 2020 onwards, anyone above 13 who’s diagnosed with acute respiratory infection will need to do a swab test.

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Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said in a virtual press conference today (25 June 2020) that the goal is to quickly isolate cases to prevent large clusters from forming.

He said, “As more activities resume, the frequency of close contacts will rise (and) we expect the number of cases to go up probably one or two weeks after the initial opening of phase two.

“We must therefore get ready to quickly detect and isolate these cases to prevent large clusters from forming. To do so, we will strategically test more as we ramp up our testing capacity, so that we can pick up cases faster.”

To help clinics cope with the testing and to support them more effectively, more than 900 Public Health Preparedness Clinics (PHPCs) will get a one-time $10,000 grant. The authorities will also pay for any additional cost lest any healthcare workers get infected or are placed under quarantine.

Of course, the question is: what defines as an Acute Respiratory Infection?

According to Healthline, it’s an “infection that may interfere with normal breathing. It can affect just your upper respiratory system, which starts at your sinuses and ends at your vocal chords, or just your lower respiratory system, which starts at your vocal chords and ends at your lungs.”

But as usual, it’d be best for the doctor to diagnose instead.

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