Newly arrived dorm-based workers face extra 7-day testing regime

The workers will be able to move into their dormitories only after completing the additional testing regime. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Newly arrived foreign workers must now undergo an additional seven-day testing regime at a designated facility after completing their 14-day stay-home notice (SHN) before they can enter a dormitory, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said yesterday.

The new requirement takes effect today and is aimed at minimising the risk of imported Covid-19 infections taking hold in dorms.

This had been seen as a "very low level" risk by the multi-ministry task force, given the 14-day SHNs and polymerase chain reaction exit tests that have been employed.

But MOM has started approving the entry of far more foreign workers, so the tougher testing system is seen as a way of minimising the chance of infections getting into the dorms and triggering a new cluster. Workers will move into their dorms after completing the new testing regime.

"During the seven days at the designated facility, the newly arrived workers will undergo additional swab tests, and will still be able to go to work," MOM added.

Workers who test positive will be isolated and taken to a hospital or community care facility. Their close contacts will also be quarantined.

A measure last April stipulated that around 180,000 foreign workers in the construction sector and their dependants had to serve 14-day SHNs to stem the spread of Covid-19 at work sites.

Employers could apply to have some workers exempted so they could carry out essential services like mosquito control at construction sites. The SHN was extended by 14 more days on May 1 for these workers after the number of infections continued to rise among construction work-pass holders who were staying in premises that were not purpose-built dorms.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 06, 2021, with the headline Newly arrived dorm-based workers face extra 7-day testing regime. Subscribe