SingPost on Thu (2 April) confirmed that two more of its employees have been tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing up the total number of cases to eight in the SingPost Centre cluster.
Both infected employees are full-time SingPost employees working at level five of SingPost’s mail processing facility, which is also linked to the first case who has been tested positive for COVID-19 last Wed (25 Mar).
It was believed that the cluster began when the first case, who is a contract staff working at the packet-processing facility, reported to work on 19 March while on medical leave (MC), according to SingPost.
Subsequently, seven full-time employees were tested positive for COVID-19 between 27 Mar and 2 Apr, with dozens more being placed in quarantine as a precautionary measure while disinfection of all operational facilities and contact tracing are implemented.
“All affected staff are not postmen and have no contact with members of public through their line of work. The employees work in a staff-only area that cannot be accessed by members of the public and uses a separate staff entrance at the rear of the SingPost building,” said SingPost in a statement.
Responding to the cluster in SingPost — caused by a staff on medical leave who still went to work — Minister of Communications and Information S Iswaran said that the creation of the new cluster “underscores the importance of staying at home and avoiding social interactions if unwell”.
The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) also reaffirmed that COVID-19 cannot be transmitted through the postal network and mail articles, based on experts’ advice.
IMDA’s statement was made in response to an audio clip circulating online which claims that a postal worker infected with COVID-19 is spitting on letters.
Up to S$10,000 fine, 6 months jail for employers and employees who violate Infectious Diseases Act
Earlier, it was reported that employers who fail to take appropriate measures against COVID-19 where possible will risk being penalised under the latest amendments to Infectious Diseases Act which was published in the government gazette on Thursday (2 April), said Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo on Tue (31 Mar).
The Act also requires employees who feel unwell or begin to develop symptoms to report immediately to their employers. Those who start to feel unwell while at work must be provided with a face mask and be asked to leave immediately. If they are unable to leave immediately, the staff should be isolated.
Any staff who has been asked to stay home due to presentation of symptoms violates the orders may face a fine of up to S$10,000 or imprisonment for up to six months, or both.
SingPost experiences loss of manpower; IMDA helps to re-deploy displaced workers from other sectors to SingPost
As “a good number” of employees have been put under quarantine or on leave of absence, SingPost said that it has started to reach out to other companies to supplement their manpower.
“With the increase in demand for domestic deliveries, we anticipate that we will require more manpower and will therefore work with industries with excess manpower to create more jobs in the immediate term,” the statement read.
As the deliveries may be delayed for an additional three working days, SingPost sought for the public’s patience and understanding.
Meanwhile, IMDA said it will support SingPost to minimise the impact on mail operations, such as facilitating the recruitment of workers from other sectors “who have been displaced due to COVID-19” while encouraging workers to look out for job opportunities in SingPost.
IMDA is also working with government agencies to re-deploy displaced workers from other sectors to SingPost, according to Mr Iswaran.
“The Government will support SingPost to safeguard the well-being of its workers, ensure the continued delivery of letters and parcels, and minimise the impact on essential postal services for the public,” he assured.