Coronavirus: Dormitory operations shifting out of 'crisis mode' to focus on 3 key phases

Dormitories in Singapore will now shift into a sustainable model focusing on three key phases: Safe Reopening, Safe Transition and Safe Nation. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

SINGAPORE - After being cleared of Covid-19, dormitories housing foreign workers here will now be shifting their operations out of "crisis mode" and on to the next phase.

Manpower Minister Josephine Teo announced the move through a Facebook post on Saturday (Aug 15).

In her post, she noted the work of the inter-agency task force, comprising close to 3,000 officers including 1,000 from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), in caring for migrant workers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mrs Teo and Dr Tan See Leng, Second Minister for Manpower and Trade and Industry, hosted Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean at the MOM Service Centre on Friday to give an update on the progress made by the inter-agency task force.

The task force was set up to provide support to foreign workers and dormitory operators as cases of Covid-19 spiked in the dormitories earlier this year.

The dormitories will now shift into a sustainable model focusing on three key phases: safe reopening, safe transition and safe nation.

"In the initial phase, we focused on saving lives during the circuit breaker by meeting short-term needs. As we gradually reopen, we must now channel our efforts into protecting livelihoods and guarding against new infections," said Mrs Teo.

She thanked the inter-agency task force officers and stakeholders, including the employers and dormitory operators, for their efforts to ensure the safety and well-being of migrant workers, while acknowledging the work that lay ahead.

Earlier this week, new cases were detected at dormitories declared to be cleared of the coronavirus, and the authorities said they were monitoring the situation to manage the risk of new outbreaks.

A joint statement by MOM, the Building and Construction Authority, the Economic Development Board and the Health Promotion Board on Tuesday pointed to fresh infections in cleared dormitories.

It said that safeguards have been put in place to make sure that the intensive efforts spent over the past four months on the dormitories so far did not go to waste.

"With more daily movements in and out of the dormitories, it is even more important for everyone to remain vigilant to guard against new infections," the joint statement said.

For instance, six new cases were linked to Kian Teck Dormitory, while two others were linked to Kian Teck Hostel, according to the Ministry of Health's update on Monday.

The joint statement on Tuesday said the measures to ensure that workers can safely restart work include requiring them to report their temperature and any symptoms of acute respiratory illness through an app twice a day.

Workers in dormitories and those who work onsite in the construction, marine and process sectors will also have to be swab tested once every 14 days.

Other measures include staggered pick-up and drop-off times for workers to and from their work sites, updating the workers' residence addresses, and minimising mixing between blocks.

Wastewater from higher-risk dormitories are also closely monitored for traces of the Covid-19 virus, and the number of migrant workers who report sick at any particular medical post tracked as possible early indications of clusters.

Plans are in place to quickly quarantine and isolate at-risk workers if a potential infection surfaces.

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