Singaporeans showed up in droves yesterday for free COVID-19 tests after they were prodded by the government to take proactive measures due to a growing number of outbreaks.
Following word that the virus has been spreading at various shopping malls and at least one school campus, seemingly endless queues were seen at a number of designated screening centers, including the former Big Box mall and a vocational institution on Dover Road.
The Ministry of Health called on anyone who has visited the latest hot spots to get checked. They include shopping malls Jem, Westgate, and White Sands, which were listed multiple times by the government in the past week as places visited by infectious people.
“Feel bad for the staff ’cause it was quite stuffy even with the standing fans (no aircon), can’t imagine spending any longer there. Everyone was masked up and most distanced safely, so that’s good,” wrote Redditor Carrionslug, who said people waited up to two hours at Big Box in Jurong. Photos show at least 100 people in snaking queues stretching all the way outside the entrance.
The government is offering free tests to those who have visited Jem and Westgate since May 10 and White Sands mall since May 2. The same goes for anyone who’s been to Changi Airport Terminal 3 since May 1. Four people have been linked to a cluster of infections at the Wok Hey food kiosk in White Sands, while several cases have broken out at Westgate, including one involving a Safe Distancing Ambassador deployed there.
Singapore Polytechnic is also testing more than 6,000 people after detecting three infected people. Those affected will receive a text message from the Health Ministry and can schedule tests at 10 different swabbing centers. Mall staff have been told to get checked at Big Box and Our Tampines Hub, where queues were spotted outside a makeshift testing site yesterday.
Only asymptomatic individuals are allowed to get tested at the screening centers. Those feeling ill are told to immediately seek medical attention.
Long queues were also seen at Singapore Polytechnic, according to photos shared by Redditor Hameggstoast. Students, staff and food vendors who have been on campus since April 29 were told to get swabbed. The school has shifted all lessons online for the rest of May.
Other queues were seen outside clinics inside the Bukit Gombak MRT station.
Singapore yesterday recorded 38 infections, including 34 locally transmitted cases. The Changi Airport outbreak now has accounted for 95 cases. In total, the country has recorded 61,689 cases and 31 deaths since the epidemic began.
I am one of those who went to Westgate between May 10 to 14. I haven’t received my SMS, but I’m getting tested anyway for COVID-19. This is the queue outside one of the clinics taking swab tests. Easily 40 people in the queue. pic.twitter.com/LZYTNcf4lt
— Kyle Malinda-White (he/him) 🏳️🌈 (@kylemalinda) May 19, 2021
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