Members of the public may soon be able to purchase do-it-yourself (DIY) COVID-19 test kits over-the-counter in pharmacies, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Monday (31 May).
Delivering an address on the COVID-19 situation, PM Lee said that Singapore is in a much better position today compared to a year ago early in the outbreak.
This has been possible as a result of extensive measures such as contact tracing, testing and vaccination, he said.
Stating that Heightened Alert “has two more weeks to go”, the Government may relax COVID-19 restrictions after 13 June if the situation improves, said PM Lee.
However, the emergence of new variants such as that from India pose challenges even despite such measures, he noted.
Thus, it is imperative to test “faster, more liberally, and more extensively” in order to be able to isolate positive cases and ringfence infections, said PM Lee.
Self-conducted testing through kits sold in pharmacies may be useful for frontliners who want to test themselves frequently or anyone who is worried they might have been infected with the coronavirus.
Large-scale, fast and simple testing may give people more confidence to ease into organising and attending large-scale events again, PM Lee added.
Vaccination is also going well, with jabs for those aged 40 to 44 underway.
The 40 vaccination centres nationwide, said PM Lee, are running smoothly. The constraints lie in vaccine supply, which the Government is working to speed up.
He said that the Government has received further confirmation of faster vaccine deliveries over the next two months, and that it will be able to offer vaccinations to everyone sooner than expected.
Students will be next in line to receive vaccinations, likely during the June holidays. Bookings for slots will open on Tuesday.
Priority will be given to graduating cohorts for ‘O’ and ‘A’-levels, as well as special needs students. Student aged 12 and above will then take their turn to receive their jab.
The final remaining group — young adults of 39 years of age and younger — are slated to be vaccinated in mid-June.
Singaporeans will be given a two-week priority window for bookings, said PM Lee.
Among the elderly, PM Lee nearly three-quarters of Singapore’s elderly have booked their vaccination appointments.
“Please come forward to get jabbed as soon as possible. Most people of your age have already been vaccinated … The President and I have been vaccinated too, and so have my Cabinet colleagues,” he urged the seniors who have yet to do so, adding that they could do so on a walk-in basis.
Noting that COVID-19 will not be eradicated any time soon, PM Lee said that it is imperative for Singapore to nonetheless stay connected to the world with the necessary safeguards.
While the country “will not be able to prevent some infected persons from slipping through”, PM Lee is optimistic that the city-state will be able to reopen its borders safely and that people “will be able to go out without masks again, at least outdoors”, provided that the public continues to adhere to the current measures.