A day in the life of a swabber
COVID-19 testing has been made more accessible to everyone to help Singapore move towards a safer society. Meet Boada Carlo Pocholo Corralef, a swabber by day and a dancer by night. Carlo has been dancing hip hop and house dance for five years outside working hours but on top of that, he is also one of the many front liners that conducts these COVID-19 swab tests to help ensure we are safe.
Passionate not just about dancing but also about contributing to Singapore’s healthcare, Carlo has been committed to swabbing staff, patients and the general public on a regular basis since May. He has been conducting the COVID-19 PCR test and COVID-19 ART test on both adults and children.
Carlo chuckled as he vaguely recalled a funny experience with a grown-up patient who started screaming before he conducted the swab and had continued to scream even during the swabbing process. Having to be swabbed on a weekly basis as a front-liner staff, Carlo also understood the fear and discomfort that patients may face during the swabbing process. As such, his advice to patients is to keep their eyes focused to the front or on an object. He will usually talk to patients or ask questions rapidly during the swab to distract them from the discomfort.
“As everyone has different sensitivity and tolerance level, there is no one advice that fits all. But having to be swabbed regularly myself, it also helps me understand patients and their concerns better. It also makes me think and try to innovate different ways to help make the swab process better for them. I think one of the best methods is through distraction and assuring them constantly.”- Carlo
As with all front-liner staff, he has to don a full PPE gear including a full gown, N95 mask, face shield, gloves and shoe covers at the swabbing station. A new test kit will be open for each and every patient to avoid any cross-contamination. All trash will be cleared and the area will be wipe down and disinfected after every swab to ensure safety measures for both the staff and patients at the swabbing station.
Knowing the risk that comes with his job position, Carlo takes further precautionary measures even in his personal life such as regular sanitising, leaving his “work shoes” outside his house and showering immediately upon reaching home.
Carlo admires Singapore’s strong healthcare structure and encourages Singaporeans to continue supporting healthcare workers. As this new normal remains, Carlo is devoted to improve himself constantly in the aspect of patient care. His knowledge and passion about healthcare is evident as he walked us through the different COVID-19 swab tests.
What COVID-19 tests are available in Singapore?
There are currently three types of COVID-19 tests in Singapore - COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, COVID-19 Serology IgM rapid test and COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test (ART).
COVID-19 PCR Test
The COVID-19 PCR swab test is one of the most common test we see around today. The PCR test directly detects the presence of active COVID-19 antigen in an individual and is the most accurate and definitive test for COVID-19.
COVID-19 Serology IgM Rapid Test
Serology test detects the body’s immune response to the infection caused by the virus, and is mostly used for individual with a history of COVID-19 infection. The COVID-19 Serology IgM Rapid Test cannot be used solely to determine COVID-19 infection.
COVID-19 ART is a quick test for COVID-19, usually done for mandatory pre-event testing. While this may be less accurate than the COVID-19 PCR test, the results can be obtained a lot faster. COVID-19 ART self-test kits are now also available over the counter for home-testing.
How is a COVID-19 PCR Swab test carried out?
Carlo explained the two types of COVID-19 PCR test – mid-turbinate (nasal) and oropharyngeal (oral) swab. Individuals may opt for the COVID-19 PCR test to be conducted either through a nasal or oral swab.
Both types of COVID-19 PCR swab tests are conducted in similar steps. The difference lies in the swab stick, where the stick used for nasal swab is much thinner compared to the one used for oral swab.
The swab stick will be inserted and fluid samples will be taken from the nasopharynx (the back of the nose) or from the oropharynx (the back of the throat) depending on the type of swab you are taking. A nasal swab will not be conducted if you are prone to nose bleeding or have had a nose injury or surgery done recently.
Overall, the COVID-19 PCR swab test takes less than half a minute to be completed. Samples taken will then be sent to the lab for testing and results will be available in 24 hours.
How is a COVID-19 ART carried out?
Similar to the COVID-19 PCR nasal swab, the ART swab stick will be inserted to the back of the nose to obtain fluid samples. However, the swab stick for the COVID-19 ART is shorter and does not require to be inserted as deep compared to the COVID-19 PCR test. Upon obtaining, the fluid samples will then be placed inside a solution that is provided along with the test kit. The results will be available within 20-30 minutes.
Where can I take a COVID-19 swab test?
Online purchase of the COVID-19 swab tests is now available on Raffles Health. Over 36 Raffles Medical (Singapore) clinics are able to administer the COVID-19 swab tests with selected clinics operating 24/7. Alternatively, you may take a swab test from the comforts of your home with the DIY ART self-test kit