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Ho Ching offers tips on doing nose swabs for ARTs before visiting friends, family

The Independent logo The Independent 28/1/2022 Anna Maria Romero
© The Independent Singapore

Singapore — Prolific Facebook user Ho Ching, former CEO of Temasek Holdings, offered some helpful tips on how to do a proper nose swab for the Antigen Rapid Test, or ART.

This advice will be handy as people prepare to welcome the Chinese New Year and the inevitable socialising over the 15 days of the festivities.

Madam Ho, who is the wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and a director of Temasek Trust advises:

“Let’s do our ART before visiting friends or families with elderly or children at home. Let’s start the day with ART if we expect to meet various people during the day, or go for various events during the day.” 

She pointed out in a Jan 27 Facebook post.   how important it is for people to collect a proper sample of the cells in the nose lining so as to ensure that the ART is accurate.

First, clean out you nose, she said. “Don’t try to use our swab stick to clean our nose of mucus or dry snot.

 [side note: Snot? Yah, pee sai, as some would say! Lolz!]

Instead, blow your nose and clear it if  you have a runny or stuffy nose.”

Next, the swab’s exposure to the inside of the nose is key.

“Then use the swab head to ‘wipe’ around the tubular surface or mucosal lining inside our nostrils to collect cell samples for our ART test. Do at least 5 rounds of wiping the swab stick around the inside lining of our nostrils, or up to 10-15 rounds.

“Some ART kits will ask us to do 5 rounds of wiping. Some will ask us to do the 5 rounds of wiping plus resting on the surface. Others would recommend doing the wiping of our nostril lining for up to 10-15 seconds.”

ARTs are not as accurate as PCR  (polymerase chain reaction)  tests in detecting the coronavirus responsible for the pandemic. But, as she reassured readers,  “the ARTs authorised in SG are generally very good at picking up infectious cases,” even if “they are not very good at picking low viral loads”.

People who test negative on ARTs are generally not infectious, she said. False-positive results are possible for both ART and PCR tests. But it is the PCR tests that help doctors  PCR tests doctors determine how to treat Covid patients.

Take for example, vulnerable patients likely to get seriously ill from Covid, such as the elderly or those who have underlying health issues. Once they test positive for the virus, they’re given medications such as molnupiravir to prevent serious illness.

“In such cases, the PCR is a must,” she said.

Don’t be alarmed if the results from ARTs are mixed.

“Today, both PCRs and ARTs could have low sensitivities for testing the Omicron, if they happen to be designed to check targets which are heavily mutated. So relax when we have an ART-, followed by and ART+, and then ART- again. Sometimes, it is the timing of the cycle, but sometimes, it is just the tail end of an infection.”


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