Organisations across all sectors will have to put in extra effort to keep central services and businesses going as leave of absence and five-day medical leave may affect manpower, said Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary yesterday.
He added that corporations here have started to think through the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on their business continuity plans, which may include arrangements for employees to telecommute, work at split sites or in shifts. Said Dr Janil: "This is not something that we can do without pulling together and putting in that extra effort.
"We have to understand that we do this to keep ourselves going and we are looking to make sure that we hold our society together."
Dr Janil was speaking to reporters at Bedok MRT station, where he observed public transport operators stepping up the cleaning of buses, trains and stations.
He noted that there has been no change in the quality of service provided by the train and bus operators despite the need to deploy more people for the increased cleaning required.
On Friday, the Ministry of Health advised doctors to give five days of sick leave to patients with respiratory symptoms, such as fever, cough, sore throat and runny nose, to try to prevent further community spread of the coronavirus.
When asked why the five days of medical leave was decided upon, Dr Janil said that it appears that most other illnesses that are not Covid-19, such as Influenza A, would have resolved on their own after five days.
"But if you're still unwell (after five days), whether you have Covid-19 or not, you should go and see your doctor. Because you now have a fever that's slightly prolonged and you need a repeat medical assessment," said Dr Janil.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Transport said that as of last Monday, there were 37 public transport workers on leave of absence, 26 of whom are bus captains.
When asked whether five days of medical leave might affect children's ability to catch up on their school work, Dr Janil said a possible solution would be online student-learning spaces where the children can collaborate with their classmates who are either in school or at home.
He added that distance learning and online learning are not necessarily the "be-all-and-end-all" of education, but they allow a different model of operations, in difficult times like these.