SINGAPORE – Since the coronavirus pandemic began last year, intellectual property law firm That.Legal LLC has demanded that all of its staff who can work from home do so.
However, one of his employees, who lives in a three-room apartment of the Housing Commission, comes to work because she has no space to work from home.
So the company signed up for the eight-week roster of routine testing (RRT) regimen that requires employees who commute to work to self-test for Covid-19 during this period to the using rapid antigen test (ART) kits.
The RRT was announced on September 6, where all registered employees are expected to test themselves weekly over a two-month period.
Companies participating in the program will receive eight ART kits for each employee.
Mr Mark Teng, executive director of the law firm, said they signed up to ensure the safety of their staff.
Companies which are not already subject to the mandatory RRT and which have employees working on site are eligible for the RRT.
Singapore’s largest employer, the public service, is leading the initiative and will distribute eight ART kits to each of its 153,000 public servants.
This represents more than 1.2 million kits for agents working in 16 ministries and more than 50 statutory councils.
The civil service division told the Straits Times: “The regular self-test has been introduced across the civil service as infections in the community have increased at a rapid rate. “
He added that regular testing will help departments and agencies quickly detect infections, isolate those infected and keep workplaces safe.
Recruitment firm Robert Walters Singapore highlighted how beneficial it is for companies to participate in this initiative, as it can help them minimize the emergence of clusters in the workplace.
He said companies that expect most of their staff to return to the office should do so.
At a multi-ministerial task force press conference last month, Commerce and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong urged employees to perform regular self-tests.
Mr Gan, who co-chairs the task force, said: “We would like to urge everyone to make testing a lifestyle and self-test before visiting crowded places.”
Associate Professor Hsu Li Yang of the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health at the National University of Singapore said this testing regime may be in line with the Republic’s approach to tackling Covid-19.
The infectious disease expert said: “(This) must evolve into an endemic state of Covid-19 while trying to minimize deaths and the strain on our healthcare capacity.”
Several tourist attractions, such as Snow City Singapore, have voluntarily administered ART tests to their staff.
Dr Kevin Cheong, president of the Association of Singapore Attractions, said Science Center Singapore, NERF Action Xperience, Kiztopia and other attractions plan to do so as soon as they can confirm their supply of ART kits, some of which are will be obtained from the Government.
Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), the parent company of SPH Media Limited which publishes ST, also joined the initiative. Since last month, she has been distributing the kits to staff who have to work on site.
This includes journalists and those from the security, production and radio services as well as cleaners and canteen operators.
Medical supplements company HST Medical has also made arrangements for its warehouse and logistics staff to pick up the kits on site. They will begin the eight week RRT from October 10.
To ensure compliance, their staff should write their names and the date of the test on the test kit using a permanent marker.
Employees who test positive for ART but are physically well are encouraged to self-isolate at home for 72 hours and then take another ART test.
If the result is negative, they are allowed to return to work.
If they are positive, they should continue to self-isolate and take another ART every 24 hours until they test negative.
To register for a kit, companies can apply on this website.