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Singapore to conduct one-minute virus breathe test at Malaysia border

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Long waits for coronavirus test results for the trickle of commuters still crossing into Singapore from Malaysia could soon be a thing of the past.

If a trial run of a one-minute breath test works out, the test was developed in 2019, by the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Breathonix, a university spin-off company

The test was approved on Monday by Singapore’s Health Services Authority for use at what was one of the world’s busiest border crossings before the pandemic.

According to the NUS, the test is simple to administer by trained personnel but does not require medically trained staff or laboratory processing.

Malaysia’s border has been closed to visitors since March 2019, while Singapore’s has been reopened to visitors and business travellers only from a handful of countries deemed low-risk, which does not include Malaysia.

The pandemic interrupted livelihoods for hundreds of thousands of Malaysians living in the south of the country who commuted in and out of Singapore each day for work.

It also interrupted smaller number of Singaporeans heading the opposite direction.

“Mass repeated testing has to be widely adopted as a key public health strategy to support the safe reopening of economies,’’ said Freddy Boey, the NUS’ deputy president for innovation and enterprise.

Both countries re-tightened domestic restrictions recently, with Malaysia imposing a third lockdown after daily virus case numbers surged so close to those seen in India, measured per capita.

Malaysia’s Health Ministry reported over 6,500 new infections on Monday, while its Singaporean counterpart said there were 36 new cases in the city-state.

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