Fresh cases detected at dormitories cleared of Covid-19

Foreign workers at Kian Teck Hostel at 26 Kian Teck Avenue. The authorities said safeguards have been put in place to ensure the intensive efforts spent on dormitories over the past four months so far do not go to waste. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Foreign workers at Kian Teck Hostel at 26 Kian Teck Avenue. The authorities said safeguards have been put in place to ensure the intensive efforts spent on dormitories over the past four months so far do not go to waste. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

There have been new cases detected at dormitories declared to be cleared of the coronavirus, and the authorities are monitoring the situation to manage the risk of new outbreaks.

A joint statement by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Building and Construction Authority, Economic Development Board and Health Promotion Board yesterday pointed to fresh infections in cleared dorms, without providing any details on the numbers affected.

It said safeguards have been put in place to ensure the intensive efforts spent on dorms over the past four months do not go to waste.

This comes as MOM yesterday also said all dorms, with the exception of 17 blocks in six purpose-built dorms which serve as quarantine facilities, are now clear of the virus.

With the latest clearance, four in five - or 315,000 - workers in the construction, marine and process sectors have been given the green light to resume work. This is compared with the 68 per cent - or 265,000 workers - in these sectors who had been given approval to start work last week.

Some 22,500 workers remain in government quarantine facilities and the 17 blocks. "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 by the four agencies said.

The measures in place to ensure 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 on site in the construction, marine and process sectors will also have to be swab-tested once every 14 days. Employers should space out the testing of their workers so that the authorities are able to "maintain constant surveillance of the Covid-19 situation".

Workers who have recovered from Covid-19 are not required to undergo regular testing for 180 days.

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Other measures include staggered pickup and drop-off times for workers to and from their work sites, updating workers' residence addresses and minimising mixing between blocks. Waste water from higher-risk dorms is closely monitored for traces of the virus, and the number of workers who report sick at any medical post is tracked as early indications of possible clusters.

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

Singapore completed testing of all 323,000 workers in dorms last Friday, with about nine in 10 workers having recovered or been found to be free of the virus as of last week.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 12, 2020, with the headline Fresh cases detected at dormitories cleared of Covid-19. Subscribe