JAKARTA 

Singapore on Friday announced the start of phase two of easing coronavirus restrictions.

The city-state started to impose an expanded COVID-19 testing regime and the use of technology to facilitate efficient contact tracing as part of its efforts to resume economic activity.

“Our current testing strategy is focused on active case finding among the community and active surveillance testing amongst targeted groups who are more vulnerable or have a higher risk of exposure to COVID-19,” the Health Ministry said in a statement.

“We have plans to increase capacity to 40,000 tests daily,” it added.

The ministry noted that it will test all individuals who are diagnosed with acute respiratory infection (ARI) on the first visit to a doctor to detect infected individuals early and quickly contain further spread.

“We will extend testing to all individuals aged 45 and above who are diagnosed with ARI from later next week, as the risks of severe COVID-19 infection increases from age 45,” the statement said, adding that this will progressively be extended to more groups subsequently.

Previously, testing for people who are diagnosed with ARI was only done to selected individuals including seniors 65 years old and above, healthcare workers and staff, and students aged 13 years and above.

The ministry said it encouraged all individuals with respiratory symptoms to see a doctor immediately, so that they can be tested if necessary.

“We will continue to do more active surveillance testing in the community … and will be setting up more Regional Screening Centres (RSC),” it continued.

Saying that quick and effective contact tracing is critical in containing the pandemic, the ministry encouraged people to use digital tools like SafeEntry and TraceTogether.

“As we re-open and resume more activities in Phase 2, we should be prepared for more community cases to emerge. These tools will help us improve the speed and accuracy of our contact tracing efforts,” it added.

The ministry called on all individuals to play their part and continue to practice strict safe distancing and good personal hygiene to reduce the risk of transmissions.

Singapore reported 142 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, bringing the national tally to 41,615.

*Writing by Rhany Chairunissa Rufinaldo from Anadolu Agency’s Indonesian language service in Jakarta.

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