Following reports from hospitals stating that employers were sending workers to get them tested for the novel coronavirus, Manpower Ministry (MOM) has warned employers not to do so.
The Ministry said that workers should only be sent to hospitals if there’s a medical emergency.
Kevin Teoh, divisional director of MOM’s foreign manpower management division, said to The Straits Times (ST) that MOM has been receiving responses from health centres stating that bosses are sending their employees to get them tested for the newly named COVID-19.
“Employers who act irresponsibly by misusing medical facilities may have their work pass privileges suspended,” MOM said.
Mr Teoh went on to point out that hospitals will not test individuals who are feeling well.
“This is to ensure that medical facilities and resources are focused on unwell individuals who need medical treatment,” he explained.
It is reported that a worker who is feeling under the weather should first visit a general practitioner, who will then assess and decide if the worker needs to be brought to the hospital.
“Our hospitals are working hard to ensure that medical emergencies are handled promptly,” noted Mr Teoh.
He added, “We encourage you to be socially responsible and only send workers to the hospital if it is a medical emergency as doing so otherwise will deny immediate treatment to those who need it.”
He went to advise employers to keep an eye on their workers’ health by checking their temperature twice a day. He also urged them to remind their employees to maintain good personal hygiene, like washing their hands regularly with soap.
Singapore is “much better prepared”
On 23 January this year, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that Singapore is now “much better prepared” to handle a new virus since the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003.
“We have been preparing for this since SARS,” he said just before Singapore confirmed its first ever Wuhan virus in the country.
“After SARS, we made a thorough review of what of the facilities we had – the infrastructure, hospitals, isolation wards, and the scientific testing and capabilities,” explained PM Lee.
He continued, “I think we are much better prepared now,” while mentioning about the new National Centre for Infectious Diseases, which opened in late 2018.