Covid-19 breath analysers could be the new normal for Singapore soon, these gadgets expected to facilitate safe travel arrangements and on-site testing at large-scale events.
Changi Airport Group (CAG) is currently trialling the technology at the T1 Changi Testing Facility, in conjunction with the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID), security firm Certis and local medtech firm Silver Factory Technology, according to a report in The Straits Times.
According to the article, Silver Factory's breathalyser, TracieX, has shown to be nearly as accurate (more than 95%) as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests — and results take just two minutes. PCR tests typically require 24 hours for results, according to Raffles Medical Group. Antigen Rapid Test (ART) results are the quickest at the moment, available within 15 minutes of administration.
Breath analysers are also cheaper, costing US$20 (S$26) each — a game changer especially for large-scale events, where pre-event testing is required for events of more than 250 participants. Currently, both ART and PCR tests are being used for events, which cost approximately S$80 per person per day.
While the Ministry of Health has yet to approve the use of breath tests for events, further updates are expected this month.
Speaking to M&C Asia, Singapore Tourism Board's executive director of conferences and exhibitions, Andrew Phua, said: "As we gradually scale up our capacity for larger business-to-business events, we welcome the use of technology and innovative solutions that can enhance safety as well as the event experience."
Breath tests at Changi Airport are currently being undertaken in two ways. The first is by breathing directly into the analyser through a disposable mouthpiece, and the second is by breathing into a disposable capsule with a HEPA filter, capping it off and then putting it through the analyser.
As this is still a trial, the air hub has indicated that samples will continue to be analysed and compared against PCR tests to determine the reliability of the technology.
The plan by Silver Factory Technology is to produce some 200,000 breath analysers a month, starting June 2021, which could see production reach two million a month.
CAG also added that "as the breathalyser test can deliver results more quickly, it will be useful as Changi Airport prepares for the reopening of international borders".
With additional reporting by Lauren Arena