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COVID-19 testing are classified into two types :

  • Diagnostic Test
  • Antibody Test (Serology)


Diagnostic tests are used to determine or diagnose a specific ailment, such as the COVID-19 virus. Serology tests, on the other hand, check for antibodies in the blood to detect prior infections.


In this article, we shall go over the three types of COVID-19 tests:

  • Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)
  • Antigen Rapid Test (ART)
  • Serology Test


Polymerase Chain Reaction test (PCR)

One of the most popular COVID-19 tests is the Polymerase Chain Reaction Test, also commonly known as PCR test. This test detects COVID-19 genomic sequences(RNA), which could indicate whether a person is actively infected with the virus, irrespective of whether they are presenting symptoms or are asymptomatic.

A nasopharyngeal or a pharyngeal swab sample will be collected and processed to extract and isolate the viral RNA present if any. The PCR test results might be obtained as quickly as 24 hours after the sample is collected.

Most people favour PCR tests over others because they are less invasive, offer more accurate results, and have a faster turnaround time.

Best for: Symptomatic persons, pre-scheduled routine testing for high-risk industries, Quarantine Order (QO) entry and exit swabs, and Stay-Home Notice (SHN) departure swabs.



Antigen Rapid Test (ART)

A nasal swab from the lower part of your nose or the back of your throat is also used in the Antigen Rapid test (ART). Despite their similarities, the PCR test and ART operate in quite distinct ways. Antigen testing look for proteins from viruses on the surface to indicate the presence of infections.

Another notable distinction between the two COVID-19 tests is that ARTs can deliver results in an hour or less, which is far faster than PCR tests. Because of its short response time, ART is the ideal COVID-19 test for pre-event testing (PET) for larger-scale events such as weddings, ceremonies, and receptions, live performances, sports, and conferences and seminars.



Serology Test

Antibody and serology tests are vastly different from the two diagnostic procedures listed above. Antibodies in our immune system provide some protection against SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19. A serology test searches for coronavirus antibodies in patients who have been infected with the virus, which is extremely valuable in determining the duration of vaccine responses.

In general, an antibody test is only performed after you have recovered completely from COVID-19, not when you are suffering symptoms or are suspected of having contracted the virus. Unlike swab tests, blood tests require a finger prick or a venous blood draw before being sent for testing. Serology test results are typically ready within one to three weeks.

Here’s how they differ from one another :


Polymerase Chain Reaction test (PCR)Antigen Rapid Test (ART)Serology Test
Objective of the testDiagnosis of active COVID-19Diagnosis of active COVID-19Test for prior COVID-19 infection
Sample retrievedA swab test is done through the nose or mouthA swab test is done through the nose or mouthBlood sample is obtained with a finger prick or a venous blood draw
Use of testIndividuals with symptoms

Stay -Home notice (SHN) exit swab

Quarantine Order entry (QO) exit swab

Pre-scheduled routine testing


For pre-event testings

Pre-scheduled routine testing

Distinguish between acute and old infections in situations where Covid-19 is tested positive
Results turnaround time24 hours after sample collectionAs soon as 30 minutes after sample collectionGenerally, one to three weeks after sample collection
DrawbacksInability to distinguish between new and old infectionsHigher false positive rates compared to PCR tests

False negative rates might be higher in those with low virus loads


If the antibody test is negative, it is impossible to rule out acute/early infection.



When do I need to get tested for COVID-19?

  1. If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms
  2. For screening purposes (schools, workplaces, congregate settings, etc.)
  3. Prior to and following travel (according to requirements by the health authorities of the countries involved)
  4. As required by a healthcare practitioner or a public health authority


If I’ve been tested negative once, do I need to get tested again?

A negative COVID-19 test result is only indicative of your health status at a particular timepoint.  If you develop symptoms at a later time point or suspect that you’ve been exposed to the virus, you will need to test yourself again. In addition, there is still a possibility that you might be infected even though your ART result is negative  A possible scenario would be that the infection is still in the early stage, and therefore the virus is not present in amounts large enough to be detected.




What do I do if I have been exposed to COVID-19?

If you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, you should confine yourself, monitor for symptoms, and consider being tested on the fourth or fifth day after the exposure.

If you’re experiencing symptoms, please monitor your symptoms and consult a doctor if they persist or worsen.

It’s important to get yourself tested every now and then in order to protect yourself and others from the virus. This can play a vital role in ensuring patients get the treatment they require, as well as in the pandemic response, by improving contact tracking and preventing the virus from spreading further.



Step by step guide for Fully Vaccinated Travellers when travelling to Singapore as of 26th April 2022


Travellers are urged to complete all of the protocols in the checklist below to ensure that their trip to Singapore goes as smoothly as possible and that they receive the vaccinated traveler’s benefits. Details can be found in the relevant stages listed below. Please keep in mind that fully vaccinated travellers and children aged 12 and under are not required to undergo a pre-departure test before flying to Singapore.


Step 1: Verify that all COVID-19 vaccination documentation is in order.

If you are 13 or older, make sure you have the appropriate evidence of vaccination to qualify for the admission processes reserved for fully vaccinated travelers.


Step 2 : Gather the necessary documents required for entry.

Prepare the necessary travel documentation and visitors should make sure that their passport is valid for at least 6 months. Entries for Long Term Pass holders and guests may be refused if proper documentation are not presented during pre-boarding or immigration check.


Step 3 : Fill up Singapore Arrival Card 3 days before your arrival

The Singapore Arrival Card (SGAC) is a straightforward and free arrival declaration that includes your travel and health information. If you encountered any COVID-19 symptoms during the past 7 days before departure, postpone your trip. Fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, and loss of taste or smell are all possible symptoms.

Fill in your SG Arrival Card (SGAC) within 3 days prior to your arrival in Singapore, if you are:

  1. Arriving by air or sea as a Singapore Citizen, Permanent Resident, or Long Term Pass Holder – SGAC is not necessary for people arriving by land.
  2. A non-resident (someone who does not have a Singapore-issued pass, citizenship, or permanent residency) or In-Principle Approval Pass Holder entering Singapore. This also applies to everyday visitors to Singapore (For example, if you are entering Singapore on 1, 2 and 3 March, three separate SGAC submissions must be made).

You will receive an email acknowledging the completion of your SGAC, which you may show for speedier pre-boarding and immigration inspections.


Step 4 : Install TraceTogether App

If you are a tourist, only activate your TraceTogether app once you have cleared immigration. Only travelers aged 6 and under are excused from installing TraceTogether.


Step 5 : Immigration clearance in Singapore

When you arrive, follow the directions of the authorities and the signage to the proper clearance lanes.

Travellers who were not vaccinated in Singapore will see their 30-day temporary vaccination status on their TraceTogether app immediately after passing immigration. Those whose vaccination status is not correctly recorded can submit a request using this form.

An e-Pass (Visit Pass) detailing the time of stay authorised will be provided to international visitors via the email address specified in SGAC. Passports will not be stamped any more.

If you are symptomatic when you arrive, you may be required to complete a COVID-19 test or other procedures as authorised by officials.


Step 6 : Follow local health protocols

Comply with the current public health standards, such as using the TraceTogether app to demonstrate vaccination verification in contexts where Vaccination-Differentiated Safe Management Measures (VDS) apply. For the most recent public health measures, go over to the Ministry of Health’s website. If you test positive for COVID-19 during your stay, follow these recovery guidelines.

To maintain excellent protection and continue to be eligible for Vaccination-Differentiated Measures in Singapore, you may need to get further COVID-19 vaccination doses. This is determined by the date of the last dose of your main immunisation series and the type of vaccine you received. Visit the MOH website for additional information on NIR registration and COVID-19 booster vaccines.

For more detailed information regarding the travel regulatories, please head on to https://safetravel.ica.gov.sg/arriving/general-travel/fully-vaccinated#step2


What is the quarantine period for VTL(Vaccinated Travel Lane)?

Travellers who have been fully vaccinated and arrive via VTL arrangements can continue to enjoy quarantine-free border procedures. A new “Restricted” category will be established for countries/regions that have growing COVID-19 conditions that necessitate tougher border controls implemented on arrivals.

Furthermore, from February 21, 2022, the travel history required for entrance into Singapore would be cut from 14 to 7 days. Because of the shorter incubation period of the Omicron variant, the SHN length will be standardised at 7 days across all country/region categories.



Travelling restrictions those who have just recovered from COVID-19


Individuals who have been fully vaccinated and have recently recovered from COVID-19 (within 90 days of their last infection) have a high degree of immunity due to their recent COVID-19 infection and vaccination, and the chance of reinfection is minimal. As a result, from January 23, 2022, at 2359 hours, such visitors coming in Singapore will be free from all testing and SHN requirements provided they can produce valid verification.

Non-fully vaccinated travellers who have recently recovered will be excused from pre-departure testing requirements provided they can show the relevant documentation, but they will still be subject to all other current border restrictions.

Visitors are encouraged to visit https://safetravel.ica.gov.sg/ for the updated border measures for their associated country, and to be prepared to be accustomed to the prevailing border procedures upon arrival into Singapore.



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