Coronavirus: New Grab service dedicated to taking healthcare workers home

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan (back row, centre) and NTUC secretary-general Ng Chee Meng (to his right) meeting meeting taxi and private-hire drivers at Newton Food Centre on Feb 12, 2020. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE- Doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals will from Friday (Feb 14) have access to a new dedicated on-demand service from Grab for travel to and from hospitals.

The service, called GrabCare, will start operating for healthcare professionals to book a ride home from the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) and Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH), said Grab in a release on Wednesday (Feb 12).

The firm added that the service will be subsequently expanded to include rides from homes to hospitals, and widened to more participating hospitals.

"Healthcare professionals, whose quiet commitment to their duty often goes unrecognised, have been on the front lines from day one. Grab aims to ease the burden of these healthcare professionals, who may face increased difficulties in getting rides due to heightened public awareness of the coronavirus situation," said the company.

Grab has reached out to NCID and TTSH to obtain the details of relevant medical staff so that they can be included on a list of people approved to use the GrabCare function.

Those on the list will have an additional option in their app to select a GrabCare ride - in addition to the other standard options.

When these users choose to get a GrabCare ride, their request will be sent out to drivers who have indicated their interest to ferry these medical professionals.

A Grab said that 2,000 driver partners have signed up to be part of the service since Tuesday (Feb 11).

In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan hailed the initiative after meeting some of the drivers earlier in the day at the Newton Food Centre.

SPH Brightcove Video
While many avoid crowded places during the coronavirus outbreak, these front-line workers - a taxi driver, GrabCare driver, and an SMRT station manager - keep Singaporeans moving every day.

Mr Khaw, who was the health minister when Sars hit, underscored the importance of supporting medical professionals and said that the dedication and bravery of hospital workers now were reminiscent of those during Sars.

"Their stories remind me of Sars, when I personally witnessed so many brave acts of our healthcare workers. Nobody left their stations. They stayed put to save and care as many as they could," he said.

"A few succumbed to Sars. That is why it is heart-wrenching to read of some who shun our healthcare workers."

Private-hire driver Michael Lee, 54, is among those keen to sign up for GrabCare. He said that it was a matter of his doing his part in the fight against Covid-19, the name given to the disease that originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

"I'm heartened by our healthcare workers, who have had the courage to continue their battle against the virus, and we should stand together to do all we can to support them by giving them peace of mind when they commute," he said.

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.