17 maids in Singapore have Covid-19, none infected by foreign workers in dorms

Most foreign domestic workers were infected by their employers, said the Ministry of Health.
Most foreign domestic workers were infected by their employers, said the Ministry of Health.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - Only 17 foreign domestic workers (FDWs) here have been confirmed to have Covid-19 so far, and they did not get it from foreign workers.

Most of them were infected by their employers, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in response to The New Paper's queries on Sunday (April 19).

Among the 17, Cases 102, 104 and 108 were linked to the Wizlearn Technologies cluster.

All three had employers who were either employees of Wizlearn Technologies or were linked to employees.

Another infected FDW was Case 21, a 44-year-old Indonesian. Her employer, Case 19, worked at the Yong Thai Hang health products shop, which was one of the earliest clusters. The cluster has since been closed.

With the number of infections among foreign workers living in dormitories shooting up, there has been speculation that maids may have come into contact with infected foreign workers on their rest days.

A WhatsApp message claimed that the situation could "very quickly spiral out of control" if maids met infected workers and carried the virus back to their employers.

Addressing these concerns in an interview with Lianhe Zaobao last Friday, Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said: "First of all, now (FDWs) can't go out, and second, when you drill down on the data, the rate of infection among foreign domestic workers is very low.

"The evidence we have so far is that they get the infection from their employers, not from outside."

STAY HOME

On April 11, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said all maids must stay home on their rest days, except to buy meals or run essential errands.

Mr William Lau, general manager of employment agency Maid Avenue, was not surprised by the low rate of infection among maids.

 
 
 
 

He said: "Even before the circuit breaker started, many FDWs were already staying at home and minimising contact with outsiders.

"Adding to that, MOM's recent announcement sent a very strong message to FDWs - it is no longer just an instruction from their employers."

A spokesman for the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home) said of the WhatsApp message: "Perpetuating such messages targets the migrant worker community unfairly as it is speculative."

The Home spokesman said employers should not be unduly worried about their maids being infected since all parties are subject to the same circuit breaker measures.

Ms Josephine Chia, 44, a mother of two children aged four and six, said that while employers have valid concerns about infections among FDWs, the WhatsApp message is "irresponsible fearmongering".

Ms Chia, who now accompanies her Filipina helper to remit money, said: "Of course, there is a basis for worry, but we should remain calm and logical about it, especially as the low number of infected FDWs provides some reassurance."