Coronavirus: Testing and trials

More swab test facilities for migrant workers by year end

Boost in regional screening centres, in-dorm test facilities to benefit over 35,000 workers

Above: Workers queueing to get swabbed for Covid-19 yesterday at a regional screening centre in Cochrane Recreation Centre in Sembawang. HPB plans to have 25 to 30 screening centres by the year end. Two-thirds of these sites will be conducting roster
Above: Workers queueing to get swabbed for Covid-19 yesterday at a regional screening centre in Cochrane Recreation Centre in Sembawang. HPB plans to have 25 to 30 screening centres by the year end. Two-thirds of these sites will be conducting rostered routine testing. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
Above: Workers queueing to get swabbed for Covid-19 yesterday at a regional screening centre in Cochrane Recreation Centre in Sembawang. HPB plans to have 25 to 30 screening centres by the year end. Two-thirds of these sites will be conducting roster
Above: Workers queueing to get swabbed for Covid-19 yesterday at a regional screening centre in Cochrane Recreation Centre in Sembawang. HPB plans to have 25 to 30 screening centres by the year end. Two-thirds of these sites will be conducting rostered routine testing. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
Workers are required to maintain a safe distance from one another while queueing for their swab tests. There are now 24 rostered routine testing facilities in dormitories, with nine more to be set up by the end of this month.
Workers are required to maintain a safe distance from one another while queueing for their swab tests. There are now 24 rostered routine testing facilities in dormitories, with nine more to be set up by the end of this month. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

To scale up routine Covid-19 swab testing for migrant workers, more in-dormitory testing facilities and regional screening centres will be set up by the end of the year.

There are now 24 rostered routine testing (RRT) facilities in dormitories, with nine more to be set up by the end of this month, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the Health Promotion Board (HPB) said in a joint statement yesterday.

The increase in rostered routine testing facilities will benefit more than 35,000 migrant workers.

Speaking at the regional screening centre in Cochrane Recreation Centre yesterday, MOM's Assurance, Care and Engagement Group's medical director Lam Meng Chon said the 33 dormitories were picked based on the large number of workers staying there.

"These are places that have a critical mass of migrant workers. Stationing in-dorm RRT stations within (these) dorms encourages convenience and economies of scale," he said.

Dr Lam noted that as at yesterday, about 2,400 workers have still not been cleared to resume work as they had not completed their rostered routine testing.

This is down from 5,700 such workers on Sept 18.

"We will continue to work with employers to explore ways to help them register their employees for RRT," he said.

Workers on shifts currently have access to swab testing at night at facilities in Acacia Lodge in Bukit Batok, Cassia@Penjuru, Central Staff Apartments in Boundary Close and Westlite Mandai in Mandai Estate.

Employers can schedule their workers' routine testing appointments in their dormitories, or at 14 of the 20 regional screening centres islandwide.

CONVENIENCE, ECONOMIES OF SCALE

These are places that have a critical mass of migrant workers. Stationing in-dorm RRT stations within (these) dorms encourages convenience and economies of scale... We will continue to work with employers to explore ways to help them register their employees for RRT.

DR LAM MENG CHON, medical director of MOM's Assurance, Care and Engagement Group, who said that the 33 dormitories were picked based on the large number of workers staying there.


IMPORTANCE OF REGULAR TESTS

Workers and employers are reminded to ensure that those who are required to undergo RRT continue to do so, in order to safeguard their health and that of the wider community... It is only through our collective effort that we can prevent, arrest and contain the risk of Covid-19 transmissions and infections.

MINISTRY OF MANPOWER AND HEALTH PROMOTION BOARD, reiterating that rostered routine testing is a critical part of early detection of Covid-19, and to contain its spread.

HPB plans to have 25 to 30 screening centres by the year end. Two-thirds of these sites will be conducting rostered routine testing.

Currently, all migrant workers staying in dormitories, except Toh Guan Dormitory, need to undergo such testing every two weeks as part of a multi-layered strategy to prevent and detect new infections earlier. Those in Toh Guan Dormitory are presently being tested every week as part of a trial to enhance testing efforts.

In the screening centres and in-dorm facilities, over 2,600 swab testing staff are on the ground every day to conduct swabbing and ensure safety measures are followed.

Currently, the 14 screening centres are conducting rostered routine testing for migrant workers staying in dorms, and workers from the construction, marine and process sectors.

These centres are in places such as The Float @ Marina Bay, the Old Police Academy and Singapore Turf Club.

Through the online Swab Registration System, employers can select their preferred swab locations and testing dates to schedule their workers for testing at either the in-dorm facilities or the screening centres.

Once workers attend their first routine testing appointment, the system will automatically schedule them for the next appointments.

Since its roll-out in August, the Swab Registration System has seen continuous enhancements to ease navigation and provide helplines for employers.

Ms Lucy Tan, chief human resource officer of NatSteel, which has about 440 workers who need to undergo rostered routine testing, said employers would previously have to rush to book slots for their workers.

However, the new automatic scheduling system removes the need for this and has made the process more convenient.

Ms Tan added that having in-dorm swab centres helps reduce disruptions to operations.

"When (the workers) are at various test centres, we don't know what time they will complete (testing), and production has to stop because we have workers all over. So, we can't even function," she said.

However, having rostered routine testing facilities within the dorms allows her company to organise the workers' schedules in a systematic manner.

MOM and HPB reiterated that rostered routine testing is a critical part of early detection of Covid-19, and to contain its spread.

"Workers and employers are reminded to ensure that those who are required to undergo RRT continue to do so, in order to safeguard their health and that of the wider community," they added.

"It is only through our collective effort that we can prevent, arrest and contain the risk of Covid-19 transmissions and infections."

SEE FORUM

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 09, 2020, with the headline 'More swab test facilities for migrant workers by year end'. Print Edition | Subscribe