Article by Puja Chandra Nanda
Singapore has moved to Phase 3 (Heightened alert) and plans to open up further from July 12th as part of a transition from dealing with COVID-19 as a pandemic to living with COVID-19 as an endemic.
These are ways in which you can prepare yourself and your family on staying safe as the country opens up and embraces living amidst an endemic:
Keep an Oximeter at Home
COVID-19 can cause blood oxygen levels to drop to dangerous levels that can lead to damage of vital organs in our body. Called “Silent pneumonia” as seriously ill people can generally feel well and miss the signs of low oxygen levels, it is one of the most serious consequences of COVID-19. Checking your blood oxygen levels regularly is a good practice and can alert people to seek medical attention when their levels become low and prevent serious consequences. The fingertip oximeter is easy to use.
Understanding Blood Oxygen levels
- Healthy range : 95% to 100%
- Need more Oxygen: 90% to 94%
- Need Oxygen Urgently (Go to A&E immediately): <90%
Temasek Foundation is providing one free oximeter for every Singapore household to enable everyone to monitor their blood oxygen levels regularly, as part of its Stay Prepared initiative to help everyone to stay safe. This becomes imperative especially with the emergence of new and more infectious COVID-19 variants.
Every household will receive a leaflet that they need for collecting their free oximeter from over 300 participating supermarket and pharmacy outlets island-wide, between Monday, 5 July 2021 and Thursday, 5 August 2021. These include popular pharmacies including Watsons, Unity and Guradian and supermarkets such as FairPrice, ShengSiong and Cold Storage.
Learn more at http://stayprepared.sg/oximeter.
Keep a DIY Rapid Antigen Test-Kit Handy
As Singapore moves towards living with COVID-19, residents are being called upon to take responsibility of their own health by testing for COVID-19 infections conveniently at home using self-test kits.
The Health Sciences Authority’s (HSA) has recently granted provisional authorization to Global Healthcare company Abbott’s Panbio™ COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test making it among Singapore’s first nasal self-test to be available for Do-It-Yourself use/ use in private settings. This self-test enables frequent, convenient testing at home with results in as early as 15 minutes.
The table below shows the ARTs that have been authorised by HSA under PSAR:
|Name of antigen rapid self-test
|Name of distributor
|Abbott PanBioTM COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test
|Unison Collaborative Pte Ltd
|31 May 2021
|Quidel QuickVue At-Home OTC COVID-19 Test
|Quantum Technologies Global Pte Ltd
|2 June 2021
|SD Biosensor SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Self-Test Nasal
|Roche Diagnostics Asia Pacific Pte Ltd
|9 June 2021
|SD Biosensor Standard Q COVID-19 Ag Home Test
|SPD Scientific Pte Ltd
|9 June 2021
|BD Veritor At-Home COVID-19 Test
|Becton Dickinson Holdings Pte Ltd
|15 June 2021
Abbott’s Panbio™ COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test
People can take this test by using a simple nasal swab (not the deep nasopharyngeal swab) while following the accompanying leaflet on Instructions for Use. For children younger than 14 years, an adult caretaker should help collect the nasal samples and conduct the test procedures.
All materials required to perform the test, such as instructions, swabs, test devices and reagent ampules are provided in the self-test package. The Panbio COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test enables people who test positive to immediately isolate so that they do not infect others, rather than waiting days for results from a lab or send-away at-home tests.
“The Panbio COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test authorisation is an important step to help break the chain of viral transmission and can help keep schools, workplaces and other venues open,” said Sanjeev Johar, divisional vice president for Abbott’s rapid diagnostics business in the Asia- Pacific region.
In symptomatic individuals, a clinical study using the professional nasal version of the test (the Panbio COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test Device) has shown a sensitivity of 98.1% and a specificity of 99.8%. In asymptomatic individuals, the professional use nasal test demonstrated a sensitivity of 93.8% in individuals most likely to be infectious due to their higher viral load and with Ct values less than or equal to 30.
For FAQs on how to use the self-kit and what to do/ how to report if you get a positive / invalid result, please visit: https://www.moh.gov.sg/covid-19/selftestart
New Measures Complete the Existing Safety and Hygiene Protocols and Support Vaccinations
It is important to continue following Safety protocols at work, play and in schools such as masking, adhering to group size and maintaining safe distance. It is also equally important to maintain good hygiene practices such as sanitizing or washing hands frequently and wiping down common surfaces/ high-touch points. These steps help in preventing infections.
The additional measures of testing frequently and monitoring one’s own health also complement the accelerated vaccination drive in the country. As of now, all Singaporeans and long-term residents in the country above the age of 12years can register for vaccination. As on 4th July, 38.1% of Singapore’s population has been fully vaccinated and 63.3% have received at least one dose.
Read our article on the vaccination drive for young children here.