Supervisors don PPE to help tackle surge in cleaning jobs in Singapore during Covid-19

Ms Yeo Shu Ming (right) indicates a section of the corridor to a member of the housekeeping team. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - Ms Yeo Shu Ming, 26, an executive at the National University Hospital's (NUH) environmental services department, oversees general and biohazard waste disposals as well as requests for cleaning of wards and rooms.

Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic early last year, there have been 50 per cent more requests for terminal cleaning of general wards, isolation wards and intensive care units.

And the number of cleaning requests has almost doubled since the spike in Covid-19 cases in August, added Ms Yeo.

Terminal cleaning of a patient cubicle involves wiping down all surfaces, including the bed, furniture and walls. It is done after a Covid-19 patient is discharged and before a new patient is admitted.

Ms Yeo said: "One challenge is manpower shortage. Because of the recent surge in community cases, more of our staff are getting health risk warnings and isolation orders."

She said that in September, the manpower shortage was so keenly felt that team supervisors had to don personal protective equipment and clean the wards themselves.

And during last year's circuit breaker in May, the external vendors the team worked with said they could not collect and dispose of the hospital's biohazard waste on time as members of their staff were affected by dormitory lockdowns.

Ms Yeo had to scour NUH for an appropriate, unused room to hold the waste to ensure it was safely kept away from patients and other healthcare workers while waiting for disposal services to resume.

But Ms Yeo said the team has learnt to deal with the unexpected.

She said: "We have been trained for this, and so we know what to do, and we do it because it is our job."

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