Dorm cleaner who caught Covid-19 at work got help from Courage Fund

The cleaner was working at Cochrane Lodge 1 dormitory when he caught Covid-19 in April 2020. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM GOOGLE MAPS

SINGAPORE - Cleaner Lim Kim Chong, 56, was infected with the coronavirus in April 2020 when Cochrane Lodge 1 dormitory, where he worked at, was declared a Covid-19 cluster.

Quarantined in an isolation facility in Pasir Ris for over a month, he tapped a Covid-19 relief scheme for frontline workers who contracted the virus at work and got $3,000 in aid.

Mr Lim is among close to 30,000 people who have received help from the Courage Fund, which disbursed about $9.9 million to those affected by the virus, including healthcare and other frontline workers, as well as lower-income households.

The fund was closed on Tuesday (May 24) as Singapore began easing Covid-19 measures from end-April.

Mr Lim recounted his time cleaning the dormitory toilets in 2020, saying: "When I saw many workers infected, I was a little scared."

Cases among workers staying in dormitories surged from 31 in April 2020 to more than 15,000 the following month, and then to 33,000 in June that year.

"When I caught it, I just thought, 'What to do? No choice'," he said.

He was more afraid of passing the infection to his mother, who is in her 80s and lives with him in a three-room flat in Ang Mo Kio.

Mr Lim, who is not married, added: "My mum was worried about me when I was in quarantine. We talked on the phone and she would ask me when I could go home."

He applied for a Covid-19 relief scheme under the Courage Fund after his company told him about it.

Mr Lim, who was supporting his mother on a monthly salary of $1,400, used the $3,000 aid to defray household expenses on food, groceries, shampoo as well as phone and utility bills.

He also bought an accident insurance policy.

"I thought, after getting Covid-19, that it is important to protect myself if anything happens, like a fall," he said. "The fund helped support our expenses."

The Courage Fund was set up in 2003 when Singapore was hit by the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) outbreak, to provide relief to Sars patients and healthcare workers.

The Ministry of Social and Family Development said its closure comes with the extensive easing of community measures from April 26 as the Covid-19 situation has further stabilised.

Those certified as Covid-19-positive before May 24 this year can still apply for assistance.

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