Coronavirus: Impact on workers

All migrant worker dorms declared clear of Covid-19

Those in standalone blocks ended isolation or quarantine, or moved to other govt facilities

Sungei Tengah Lodge, Singapore's biggest dormitory for foreign workers, was declared Covid-19-free last month. The Ministry of Manpower said it expects an additional 20,000 residents from recently cleared dormitories to soon have the Green AccessCode
Sungei Tengah Lodge, Singapore's biggest dormitory for foreign workers, was declared Covid-19-free last month. The Ministry of Manpower said it expects an additional 20,000 residents from recently cleared dormitories to soon have the Green AccessCode, which allows them to resume work, after their dorms have completed the necessary preparations.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

All dormitories were declared to be clear of Covid-19 as of yesterday, including the standalone blocks in purpose-built dormitories that served as isolation or quarantine facilities.

"All residents in the standalone blocks have either completed their isolation or quarantine, or been moved to other government facilities depending on their health status," said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

Around 333,000 foreign workers in the construction, marine and process sectors, or 86 per cent of them, have been allowed to resume work. This is up from the 81 per cent announced last week.

They have been given the Green AccessCode, which allows them to resume work.

The ministry said it expects an additional 20,000 residents from recently cleared dormitories to have the Green AccessCode soon, after their dormitories have completed the necessary preparations.

"Half of these residents currently have Red AccessCode, as their addresses are not updated. Reminders will be sent to dormitory operators and employers to update workers' addresses accordingly," it added.

Going forward, MOM said it expects that there will always be a proportion of workers with Red AccessCode, which precludes them from going to work.

This can be due to several reasons, such as testing positive for Covid-19 or being quarantined following close contact with an infected person.

Workers may also have the Red AccessCode if they are placed on precautionary quarantine while their exposure to a positive case is being investigated, if they no longer have the TraceTogether app installed on their mobile device, or if they are required to undergo rostered routine testing but did not do so.

With the completion of the dormitory clearance process, MOM said it has adopted a multi-layered strategy to prevent a second wave of infections in the cleared dormitories.

This includes grouping migrant workers in dormitories by the type of industry they are in and implementing safe distancing measures.

Once a new case is detected, contact tracing efforts will begin.

"Sector agencies will work closely with the employers to assess the risk at the workplaces and put in place safety timeouts if necessary," said MOM.

Once immediate close contacts of positive migrant workers are identified, they will undergo a 14-day quarantine at a dedicated facility.

  • 86%

    Proportion of foreign workers in the construction, marine and process sectors who have been allowed back to work.

Other close contacts will be quarantined in their dormitories and will undergo tests to ensure that they are cleared of the virus before they are allowed to return to work.

MOM said the new infection cases in cleared dormitories and temporary holding sites are a reminder of the need to be vigilant.

MOM added that its priority will be to prevent and arrest new in-fections through early detection, timely containment and effective isolation.

  • Steps to spur routine testing

  • Around 15,000 employers - or 78 per cent - have logged into the swab registration system since it was launched on Aug 1 to schedule their workers for rostered routine testing (RRT).

    However, there are still 118,000 workers who need to undergo RRT and have not yet been scheduled, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said late on Tuesday in a joint statement with the Building and Construction Authority, Economic Development Board and Health Promotion Board.

    The authorities said that the RRT - conducted every 14 days - is for migrant workers living in dormitories, those working on construction or production sites, and those in the construction, marine and process sectors.

    MOM urged employers who have not scheduled their workers, especially those who stay at recently cleared dormitories, to do so quickly. It is planning to update an access code system for workers such that those who are required to undergo RRT but fail to do so will have a Red AccessCode.

    Once workers have been scheduled for their first RRT, they will be automatically assigned new dates for future swabs.

    The ministry advised employers to schedule appointment slots for workers early so that they can secure a testing date at their preferred location.

    Employers should log into the swab registration system regularly to check if there are new workers whom they need to schedule appointments for, it said. The ministry will add new workers to the system after their dormitories are cleared of the coronavirus.

    Wong Shiying

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 20, 2020, with the headline 'All migrant worker dorms declared clear of Covid-19'. Subscribe