Singapore News: Singapore healthcare providers are expecting a wave of travellers requiring pre-departure COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests in the coming months as China eases its border measures.
Unihealth handles about 100 to 150 swabs for COVID-19 PCR tests across its four clinics each week, and it expects these numbers to increase.
Medical director and family physician at Unihealth Clinic Dr Xie Huizhuang said there has been a 15 to 20 per cent increase in demand for such tests since mid-November, with much of it coming from Chinese nationals returning home.
“This small spike is mainly because China has recently shifted its COVID-19 zero-tolerance approach,” she noted.
Since mid-November, those going to China are required to take one PCR test within 48 hours before travelling, instead of the two tests that were previously required.
China also loosened COVID-19 curbs nationwide earlier this month, lifting restrictions on entry to public spaces and allowing those infected to isolate at home instead of being taken to a hospital.
Unihealth is gearing up for a further rise in demand for PCR tests next month, as Chinese nationals prepare to return home for Chinese New Year, which falls on Jan 22.
Raffles Medical similarly expects a surge in demand. Currently, it conducts about 150 to 200 swabs each day across its 40 clinics.
"We are preparing ourselves to meet a surge of at least 30, 50 per cent over time, especially when China eases off quarantine requirements … we will see more people travelling. We are really preparing ourselves for that potential surge,” said Raffles Medical’s medical director Chng Shih Kiat.
The group is prepared to provide a service that runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week for those who need PCR testing, he added. He said that supply is not an issue and Raffles Medical has the capacity to meet a 100 or 200 per cent surge.