Your Advanced Guide

The Advanced Guide to Antigen Rapid Test (ART) Kits in Singapore

Learn to use ART kits the right way with this comprehensive guide.

Find out more about the ART kits available in Singapore and how to use them correctly, for yourself and those under your care.

Getting used to living with endemic COVID-191 means getting comfortable with using the Antigen Rapid Test (ART) kit. For many, such as parents with children in primary school and those working in healthcare, F&B and many other sectors2, this means testing on a regular basis in order to keep the community safe.3 As the situation continues to evolve, remember to stay up-to-date and informed on the latest requirements.

In the meantime, if you haven’t already tried it, don’t worry - ART kits are a convenient and effective way to allow more people to test for COVID-19 more often. In this way, authorities hope to identify possible cases more quickly.4

Here’s what you need to know about how they work, when to use them and how to use them correctly.

Quick facts about Antigen Rapid Test (ART) Kits
When should the Antigen Rapid Test (ART) Kit be used?

The Antigen Rapid Test (ART) kit may be used for those who are concerned that they may have been exposed to the virus.5 Those with symptoms such as fever, cough or a sore throat should see a doctor instead. 6

The ART kit should not be used if you have experienced a nosebleed in the past 24 hours, or if you have undergone nasal surgery in the last 4 weeks or facial surgery in the last 8 weeks.

Instead, you will need to visit a licensed ART provider to have the test performed by a professional.7

How do Antigen Rapid Test (ART) Kits work?

ART kits detect viral proteins from the COVID-19 virus. Kits generally contain:

  • a swab to collect tissue samples from both nostrils (nasal sample)
  • a vial with a buffer solution
  • a test cartridge

Instructions vary according to the specific kit you are using, so be sure to read the instructions first and follow them carefully. 8, 9

How accurate are Antigen Rapid Test (ART) Kits?

While there are variations between brands, ART kits have a sensitivity of approximately 80 percent in detecting the COVID-19 virus in those with higher viral loads.8

What do I do if my test results are positive?

If you receive a positive result but feel physically well, you should stop going to work or school, cancel all activities, and isolate yourself for at least 72 hours. During this time, you should monitor yourself for symptoms such as fever, cough and sore throat.10

If these symptoms develop, it is best to visit a Swab and Send Home (SASH) clinic for a doctor to assess your condition and advise you on next steps.11

At the end of the 72 hours, you should take another self-administered ART. If the results are negative, you can resume your normal activities. If the results are positive, and no symptoms develop, you should continue to isolate yourself until you get a negative result. 10

Using the Antigen Rapid Test (ART) Kits at home

The ART kits contain clear instructions that adults can follow; some may provide how-to videos as a guide. While these are usually sufficient for adults, children below 12 years are advised to have an adult caregiver supervise their use or perform the test for them12. Similarly, those who are caregivers for the elderly or physically impaired will need to administer the test on their behalf.

advance guide
General advice for using the ART kit13
  1. Perform the test in a well-ventilated space, on a flat and uncluttered surface such as a cleared table or counter top.
  2. Have a mirror and timer to guide you.
  3. Clean your hands and open your ART kit. Check that you have all the components described in the manual.
  4. Read the manufacturer’s instructions before you begin.
  5. As the components are sealed to prevent contamination of the sample, only open the swab immediately before using.
  6. Insert the swab approximately 2cm into one nostril, rotating (twisting) it 5-10 times against the inside wall.
  7. Using the same swab, repeat the process on your other nostril.
  8. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on using the buffer solution and test strip and comply with the recommended waiting time.
  9. Check your results according to the instructions.
  10. Place all kit contents in a plastic bag for disposal and wipe down the surface thoroughly.
advance guide
Practical tips for parents and caregivers

If you are performing the test for a child or a person under your care, try to use simple language to explain what you are going to do and what they can expect. For example, you can demonstrate the process on a doll or teddy bear, and explain “I’m going to use this long cotton bud to check your nose for COVID-19. It might feel uncomfortable, but if it hurts, just squeeze my hand and I will stop.”

Here are some FAQs you may find useful:
Is the ART kit approved for young children?

The ART can be safely used for children aged 2 years and above. Health authorities in Singapore recommend adult supervision or assistance for children under 12 years. 14

Is it better for them to be sitting, standing or lying down while I take the sample?

It is not necessary for them to lie down; they only need to tilt their head back to allow easier access for swabbing. You may place your hand at the back of their neck for better control, or place a rolled-up towel or pillow for support. 15

How can I get them to stay still while I perform the test?

Depending on their age, it may help to provide a simple distraction, or they can help to count the number of times the swab is used for each nostril. 15 It may also be helpful if you have support from someone familiar who can hold them while you are taking the sample.

How far should the swab go in? I’m afraid I will hurt their nose.

The swab should be inserted around 2cm deep for both children and adults16, which is around the length of a paper clip or the length of your fingertip to the first joint of your finger.

As a guide, you should insert the swab slowly and gently along the side of the nostril until you feel resistance, before you twist or rotate the swab to collect the sample. 15

Where can I buy Antigen Rapid Test (ART) Kits in Singapore?

The SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Self-Test Nasal is authorised by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) under PSAR17 and is available at selected pharmacies. Designed for accuracy, it offers quick and reliable results, with added peace of mind as the extraction buffer renders the virus inactive after two minutes.18

With more access to affordable and efficient ART kits, we can do our part to break the COVID-19 chain of transmission, and help keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.

Learn more about where to purchase your ART self-test kit here.

  1. Bloomberg. “Singapore Confronts the Division and Fear That Come From Living With Covid”. (accessed 5 November 2021)
  2. Government of Singapore. “Vaccinate or Regular Test” Regime for selected sectors”. (accessed10 November 2021)
  3. Channel News Asia. “Primary school students must do COVID-19 antigen rapid tests once every 2 weeks until end of term”. (accessed 10 November 2021)
  4. The Straits Times. “DIY Covid-19 test kits to be sold at some retail pharmacies from June 16”. (accessed 5 November 2021)
  5. The Straits Times. “DIY Covid-19 test kits to be sold at some retail pharmacies from June 16”, (accessed 5 November 2021)
  6. Answers from the Singapore Government. Who can use the Antigen Rapid Test (ART) kits?, (accessed 8 November 2021)
  7. Ministry of Health Singapore. Your Simple Guide to Antigen Rapid Test (ART) Self-Test Kits, (accessed 8 November 2021)
  8. Channel News Asia. “FAQ: What you need to know about the new DIY COVID-19 antigen rapid test kits”. (accessed 5 November 2021)
  9. Today Online. “Explainer: How to use Covid-19 self-test kits, how they work and what they cost”. (accessed 5 November 2021)
  10. Ministry of Health Singapore. I Am Well but Test Positive. (accessed 22 November 2021)
  11. Ministry of Health Singapore. What To Do Next? (accessed 22 November 2021)
  12. Answers from the Singapore Government. Are there any age restrictions on the use of the Antigen Rapid Test (ART) kits? Accessed 8 November 2021.
  13. Ministry of Health Singapore. Your Simple Guide to Antigen Rapid Test (ART) Self-Test Kits. (accessed 8 November 2021)
  14. Answers from the Singapore Government. Who can use the Antigen Rapid Test (ART) kits? (accessed 8 November 2021)
  15. KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital. “Care-provider-administered Antigen Rapid Test (ART) for children aged 2 to 7 years”. (accessed 8 November 2021)
  16. ABC News. “How far do coronavirus testing swabs go up your nose?” (accessed 10 November 2021)
  17. Health Sciences Authority (HSA). COVID-19 self-test kits authorised for use in Singapore. (accessed 8 November 2021)
  18. ROCHE. SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Self Test Nasal. (accessed 8 November 2021)
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