COVID-19 Self-test Guide: Types of Tests + How to Use Them and Where to Buy in Singapore
Shannon Osztonits

Shannon Osztonits

January 20, 2022

When the Covid-19 virus first broke out, the only way to get yourself tested was going via medical practitioners/facilities and results received within 1-2 days later. But a year and a bit down the line, manufacturers have finally come up with an alternative (that’s also loads cheaper).

Heard of anti-rapid self-test kits before? Here you can complete a Covid-19 quick-test at home if you’re in desperate need/are needing some peace of mind…There are a few places in SIngapore where you can purchase them in-store too. Here’s everything you need to know including how to use the different self-test kits and where to buy!

An introduction to self-detection kits

Instead of having to book an appointment and pay a visit to the doctor, there are now ART self-detection tests on the market and available for you to buy over the counter to test yourself at home.

ART stands for ‘anti-rapid testing’ because they provide results soon after via a quick nasal swab. The quick screening tool will then detect if there are any proteins usually found in the virus that show up in the results. This is a great method for catching the virus at an early stage if you think you’ve begun to show symptoms and according to the Ministry of Health, these tests can produce results in less than 20 minutes.

ART vs PCR tests

Firstly, what’s a PCR test? Scientifically, it stands for Polymerase chain reaction and usually after a PCR test, the test is sent off to a lab which can detect immediately and fully if you have the virus or not. However, waiting for results takes longer, but these are usually 100% effective.

When it comes to ART tests and their effectiveness, according to infectious disease expert Dr. Liang Henan, “a negative test does not mean that you are not infected, but the possibility of contracting COVID-19 is relatively low.”

The Singapore Health Sciences Authority (HSA) also points out that the sensitivity of ARTs is lower than that of PCR tests, and the possibility of false negative results is higher. The also state that in general, “ARTs can achieve a sensitivity of about 80% for cases with higher viral loads and a specificity range of 97-100%”.

FYI. Sensitivity refers to the test’s ability to correctly identify the COVID-19 virus in infected individuals. Specificity refers to the test’s capabilities of correctly identifying those that are virus-free!

Where to buy Tests and Purchase Restrictions?

As of June 16th, the public in Singapore have been able to purchase these rapid home-testing kits at your local Watsons, Guardian and Unity chain drug stores around the city, just btw. (There will also be more places in the future where ARTs will be available to buy.)

For now, you will need to consult the store’s pharmacist before you buy the test over the counter, but you don’t require or need a doctor’s prescription to be able to purchase one either. And all tests come with an instruction leaflet.

In the beginning, stores put a 10-set per customer limit to make sure they don’t run out. Please continue to buy rationally.

The only authorised COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test Self-Test Kits in Singapore + Pricing

To date, the HSA have only officially authorised four ART brands that are available for the public to buy…Here they are listed, and if you happen to find a different brand, you might want to question its legitimacy first – you don’t wanna take chances with these things anway.

Kit product name:
Watsons
Guardian
Unity
Abbott PanBio COVID-19 Antigen Self-test
$13.10/piece
$12.80/piece
$12.80/piece
Quidel QuickVue At-Home OTC COVID-19 Test
$21.65/2 sticks
S21.40/2 sticks
$20.80/ 2 sticks
SD Biosensor SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Self-Test Nasal
To be announced soon
To be announced soon
To be announced soon
SD Biosensor Standard Q COVID-19 Ag Home Test
To be announced soon
To be announced soon
To be announced soon

How to use the ART self-test kit correctly?

If you have purchased yourself a self-kit to test and use at home, you will need to do the following:

Step 1: Use the swab provided with the kit to collect a sample from your nasal cavity.
Step 2: You will need to prepare a nasal cavitiy sample yourself using a buffer solution and test tube included with the kit to do so.
Step 3: Once your swab sample is ready, use the testing equipment, and then wait for your results.
Step 4: Follow the instructions mention in the leaflet to obtain best/valid results.

It should be noted that the instructions for the four self-test kits may differ slightly. For example, the Quidel QuickVue test uses a test strip immersed in a buffer solution which stands for 10 minutes.

The Abbott PanBio kit requires the buffer solution to be dropped on the rapid test device and you need to wait for 15 minutes. Also please note, for children under 14 years old, an adult should help collect nasal samples and perform the test procedures.

What should I do if the test result is positive?

If your test result is positive, you don’t need to be overly anxious. The next step is to either contact a Public Health Preparedness Clinics (PHPCs) where all Singapore Citizens, Permanent Residents and eligible Work Permit Holders can book an appointment here. These clinics treat common respiratory infections such as flu, and a doctor will assess if they think you need to take a Covid-19 test or not.

The second option is to contact and book with a Swab and Send Home (SASH) PHPCs where they do perform swab tests for anyone who books an appointment. The doctor will assess you, perform a swab test and then your test will be sent off to a facility like the Regional Screening Centre (RSC).

If you feel like you’re showing more than one symptom, or have been in contact with someone recently that has tested positive for Covid-19, it’s better to be cautious and take the necessary steps to not ensure your own health and safety, but also for those around you.

There you have it folks, a quick run down on the Covid-19 Self-Test Kits and all the ins and outs you need to know!

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