Government Releases Their Stockpile of ART Kits to Retailers As They Run out of Stock Everywhere


In the early stages of the pandemic, there was panic-buying and shortages in tissue paper, masks, and hand sanitisers.

Now, with the descent of the Omicron wave, people are scrambling to get their hands on the Antigen Rapid Test (ART) health kits, regardless of whether it is in retail stores or vending machines.

The Growing Demand for ART Kits

After receiving word from its retailers that there was a sharp increase in demand for ART kits starting from last week, especially around the Chinese New Year period, the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced on Thursday (17 Feb) that it has released its supplies to the retailers.

According to the retailers, the ART kits would be snatched up once they hit the shelves, forcing them to constantly order more to replenish the stocks.

Pharmacy chains like Guardian has noted that demand for ART kits have doubled since January, mostly due to the festivities and more people returning to their workplace after the relaxation of COVID-19 safety management measures.

The spokesman of DFI Retail Group—which owns Guardian, Cold Storage, and Giant—concurred, saying that the demand was significantly higher than November and December.

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Government Releases Its Stockpile of ART Kits

Having seen the effects and magnitude that the Omicron wave can reach in other countries, the Singapore government had preemptively built up a stockpile of ART kits to prevent and relieve any sudden disruptions in supplies globally or abrupt increases in demand in Singapore.

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MOH also remarked that the heightening demand for ART kits reflects the testing needs of the population as the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve.

On 15 Feb, COVID-19 infection cases had peaked, hitting a record-high of 19,420 cases.

The figures dropped to 16,883 cases the next day, with 1,352 patients hospitalised and 13 dead.

However, it should be noted that these are just reported numbers; there could be more cases where people have self-tested positive but only had mild symptoms, thus choosing to self-isolate on their own instead of seeking official medical attention until the virus passes.


Yet, all of these people still need numerous ART kits, since self-testing is required until they receive a negative result, to say nothing of close contact cases which will implicate an even larger number of people by association.

In the same vein, the MOH said: “The recent demand for test kits has also risen as the population takes on greater social responsibility to perform more regular self-testing.”

Thus far, approximately nine million test kits have been sold ever since pharmacies started to sell them.

The Government has also distributed nearly 25 million ART kits to households through two nationwide distributions from August to September, then November to December of last year, providing each household with a total of 16 kits.

Beyond that, the MOH has not declared if there will be another round of ART distribution to households.

Given the ever-evolving and mutating nature of the coronavirus—like the Omicron Subvariant BA.2 which is capable of avoiding detection at times—and the government’s shortening supply as they hand it over to the retailers, it’s quite unlikely for there to be another round.

Please stay safe and self-test if necessary, dear readers, and make sure to comply with the COVID-19 Health Protocols if you happen to be among the unlucky ones who have contracted the virus!

Your health is important!

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Featured Image: Shutterstock / Angel Soler Gollonet