As of Saturday (5 September), the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) had revealed that new COVID-19 clusters were identified at three additional migrant workers’ dormitories, as reported by CNA.
These dormitories are Cochrane Lodge 1 at 51 Admiralty Road West, Mandai Lodge 1 at 460 Mandai Road, as well as Tuas South Dormitory at 1 Tuas South Street 12, and the MOM had previously declared these dorms to be cleared of COVID-19.
Back in April, Cochrane Lodge 1 and 2, and Mandai Lodge 1 were gazetted as isolation areas and were then declared to be cleared of the coronavirus in July.
As for Tuas South Dormitory, it was declared cleared of COVID-19 back in August.
However, right before all the dormitories were cleared on 19 August, new cases had been detected, yet the MOM went ahead and made the declaration.
For the newly reported coronavirus cases after the clearing of dormitories, the Ministry explained that a majority of them were detected through Rostered Routine Testing (RRT) for the workers, as well as the ones who were already under quarantine.
In the past three days, 37 new dormitory cases were reported on 4 September, 29 on 5 September, and 23 on 6 September.
In the Ministry of Health’s daily update on COVID-19, it was revealed that the RRT allowed the Government to “pick up cases early”, including the ones that were asymptomatic. Other than the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, the MOH explained that they were also conducting serological tests to determine if the newly detected cases were current or past infections.
“Besides the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, we have also conducted serological tests to determine if some of these cases are current or past infections. The serological test result for 1 case has come back positive so far, which indicates likely past infection.”
The MOH added that the positive serological test results could be due to past infection, but the virus would “no longer be transmissible and infective to others”.
“Cases whose serological tests are positive are likely to have a past infection, and could be shedding minute fragments of the virus RNA picked by the PCR test, which were no longer transmissible and infective to others.”
16,000 workers yet to schedule for RRT
The MOM released a statement on 4 September, urging employers to schedule their workers for RRT as 16,000 of them were yet to undergo RRT.
It was a large number of workers since they were supposed to start their 14-day RRT cycle by 5 September, and 16,000 of them were not scheduled on 4 September.
“Employers were also reminded on 22 August that all workers who are required to undergo RRT must have completed a swab test in the preceding 14 days and started their 14-day RRT cycle by 5 September 2020.”
The Ministry also warned if the workers failed to meet the deadline, their AccessCode Status will be reflected as Red under the “Health Status” and they will not be allowed to return to work.
The statement added that “unresponsive employers” who had “persistently” failed to schedule workers for RRT may have their work pass privileges curtailed.
Other than Cochrane Lodge 1, Mandai Lodge 1, and Tuas South Dormitory, new clusters that had been identified previously were Sungei Tengah Lodge, Homestay Lodge, Tuas View Dormitory, Changi Lodge II, North Coast Lodge, Toh Guan Dormitory, Cochrane Lodge II, Westlite Toh Guan and Blue Stars Dormitory.