The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and Ministry of Health (MOH) are piloting the use of COVID-19 antigen rapid tests for 1,000 migrant workers as part of the Rostered Routine Testing (RRT). 

Under the RRT, migrant workers are tested every 14 days using the PCR test. According to a media release by MOM, the antigen rapid test will be used as an additional test on the seventh day to complement the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test on the 14th day. 

During the pilot, which started on 18 October 2020, the workers residing at SCM Tuas Lodge dormitory, will be tested on a seven-day cycle. The pilot will run for a period of four weeks.

Even though the antigen rapid test is less accurate than PCR tests, the benefit is that results can be obtained within half an hour, versus 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.

The Assurance, Care and Engagement (ACE) Group, in consultation with MOH, will evaluate the effectiveness of the antigen rapid test pilot and assess its suitability to be incorporated into the RRT.

Photo / 123RF