Mandarin Orchard Covid-19 cases: Holidays cut short as guests' worries grow over hotel stays

Thirteen people on SHN at the Mandarin Orchard Singapore hotel may have been infected during their stay there.
Thirteen people on SHN at the Mandarin Orchard Singapore hotel may have been infected during their stay there.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - Staycations were cut short at the Mandarin Orchard Singapore, while those on stay-home notices (SHN) at the hotel were subjected to a Covid-19 test on Saturday (Dec 19), after the Ministry of Health (MOH) said it was probing 13 Covid-19 cases among people who served their SHN there.

While the hotel said all guests would be moved out by Sunday, guests with luggage were already seen waiting at a pick-up point when The Straits Times visited at 5pm on Saturday.

Security staff were on hand to help with bags, and at least two safe distancing ambassadors were spotted.

Most of the guests seen were families with young children.

A 37-year-old hotel guest who declined to be named said she saw, from a distance, some people wearing full personal protective equipment being ushered into a separate part of the hotel.

"It's probably just precautionary measures but I thought it's better to check out one night earlier and be safe at home," she said. She was initially booked for a two night stay with her two daughters, aged nine and seven.

Fitness instructor Fazli Ahmad, 29, and his wife, who were checking out of the hotel after a two-night stay, said they will keep a close watch for any possible symptoms over the next two weeks.

"We came back from swimming earlier in the afternoon and saw many safe distancing ambassadors in the hotel, so we thought maybe there was an event. When we read about the matter on the news, we just started packing...to get ready to check out," he said. The couple had their seven-month-old daughter with them.

Other guests decided to cut short their staycation, too, after reading media reports.

Senior manager Muneer, who wanted to be known only by his first name, said he heard the news when he was shopping with his family along Orchard Road.

He decided to check out of the hotel one night earlier as his three-year-old daughter was with him. "It's a little disappointing because we had plans for dinner nearby but now we're going home. Our mood is affected but safety definitely comes first," he said.

Those serving SHN in the hotel were also given a Covid-19 test to determine their status.

Project manager Ginny Leow, 51, who completed her SHN on Saturday and was supposed to check out at noon, said she only managed to get her SHN exit swab after 2pm as the testing stations were "quite busy and crowded".

"Of course I'm worried because I'll be staying with relatives," she said, adding that she was unsure if she should meet anyone before her test results were out.

Ms Leow lives in Vancouver, Canada, and returned to Singapore with her 13-year-old son to spend Christmas with her family.

"Today is my son's birthday so it's supposed to be a happy day but now we're feeling a bit uncertain," she said.

Those who had not completed their SHN were filled with uncertainty.

"I am unsure about whether I should pack my things, so I have just kept half of my belongings. The hotel should inform us about what's going on but we also know that some of the staff might not be clear about what's happening," said a 35-year-old teacher who wanted to be known only as Ms Kok.

After going for hours without any news, she finally received a call around 9.15pm informing her that she would be transferred to another hotel on Sunday.

Mandarin Orchard said in a statement on Saturday that it had no information about how long the hotel would be closed as investigations are still being done.

It added that refunds for upcoming stays, room and dining reservations, and events will be processed within 14 days.

Those in need of assistance for room bookings can call 6737-2200.

Those with dining reservations can contact 6831-6288 or 6831-6271 while those who have booked events can contact 6831-6078.