The Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Building and Construction Authority (BCA), Economic Development Board (EDB) and Health Promotion Board (HPB) have issued a joint media statement announcing the “multi-layered approach” to ensure that it is safe for construction works to resume in Singapore.
Among other things, the statement said that the testing of all migrant workers staying in dormitories has been completed. Yet, it would appear that despite the completion of testing, new cases of COVID-19 infections have already been detected at previously cleared dormitories. While it is understandable for authorities to want works to resume as soon as possible, this collective press release does raise a few nagging questions.
- How can testing be said to be completed if new cases are arising in previously cleared dormitories? Surely if there are new cases, it would be prudent to retest those premises instead of declaring that testing is complete?
- With the resurgence of cases in previously clear dormitories, have the authorities investigated if their testing methodology is comprehensive? If the testing methodology is inadequate, surely we should be retesting the workers in those dormitories rather than to declare testing complete?
- Were the authorities able to trace how those cases made its way back to previously cleared dormitories? If not, should those workers not be retested to ensure that they do not spread it again?“
According to the statement, “the Interagency Task Force (ITF) is actively monitoring the dormitories to manage the risk of new outbreaks.” How can the ITF adequately monitor and control the situation if the dormitories that have seen a resurgence of cases are not retested?
Prior to the recent general election, the Government came under fire for allegedly mishandling the COVID-19 crisis in Singapore (especially within the migrant worker community). Minister for Manpower, Josephine Teo was roundly blasted for not having taken action earlier when news of migrant workers living in dormitories catching COVID-19 was first made public in early February.
Now that the general election is over and Teo has been reinstated in her position as Minister for Manpower, is the Government wilfully making the same mistake by not retesting the dormitories it had previously cleared in the wake of new cases? Wouldn’t the Government be safe rather than sorry? In other words, is the Government seemingly declaring that it is same for construction works to resume and hoping for the best?
What will happen if the pandemic raises its ugly contagious head again?