MPs to undergo supervised Covid-19 self-tests before each Parliament sitting

SINGAPORE – MPs who attended the parliamentary sitting on Monday (Sept 13) had to test themselves for Covid-19 before the session began at 11.30am as part of a new regimen.

Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin said in a Facebook post on Monday night that he had earlier asked MPs to do an antigen rapid test (ART) self-test at the start of the day.

He shared a video demonstrating how a self-test is done, as well as photos of MPs queuing up inside Parliament House, where temporary booths were set up for them to conduct the self-tests under supervision.

In a written reply to a parliamentary question filed by Nominated MP Tan Yia Swam, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said MPs must undergo supervised fast and easy self-tests ahead of each parliamentary sitting.

This is to “set a good example”, with the authorities encouraging more people here to undergo self-testing, he added.

Dr Tan, who is a surgeon, had asked whether rostered routine testing (RRT) could be implemented for MPs doing home visits, holding physical Meet-the-People Sessions, and attending parliamentary sittings.

In his reply on Monday, Mr Ong said the Ministry of Health (MOH) recognised that MPs tend to meet many of their residents, and had discussed the matter with Mr Tan Chuan-Jin.

Noting that RRT is mandatory for groups such as front-line workers and workers living in dormitories, Mr Ong added: “Nevertheless, we have encouraged all Singaporeans to voluntarily undergo regular self-testing as a matter of social responsibility to keep Singapore safe and to protect themselves and their loved ones.”

Last week, MOH had announced new measures to curb what it said was likely to be an exponential rise in new Covid-19 infections.

This included expanding the mandatory fast and easy RRT regimen to workers in more sectors, and increasing the frequency of such tests from every 14 days to once a week.

Previously, only workers in higher-risk settings such as food and beverage outlets, personal care services and gym and fitness studios had to undergo such tests.

Now, retail mall workers, supermarket staff, last-mile delivery workers – including parcel and food delivery workers – as well as public and private transport workers need to undergo regular self-tests too.

Amid the recent surge in infections, the People’s Action Party last week asked all its MPs to suspend house visits.

The ruling party also asked MPs to limit in-person activities, and several MPs have suspended physical Meet-the-People Sessions, asking residents to e-mail, call or video-call them instead.

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