Following the detection of a new COVID-19 cluster at the Westlite Woodlands dormitory earlier this week, tighter COVID-19 prevention measures will be implemented for migrant workers starting Friday (23 Apr).
Second Minister for Manpower Tan See Leng — who has just been appointed as Manpower Minister in the recent Cabinet reshuffle — said on Thursday (22 Apr) that since the global backdrop of new variants of the virus and worsening situation in the region, the Government has decided to tighten public health measures relating to migrant workers “with immediate effect” on two fronts, namely border measures and surveillance measure.
For border measures, all newly arrived migrant workers from higher-risk countries, including those with a positive serology result, will be required now to serve a 14-day stay-home notice (SHN) at a dedicated facility.
Upon completing their 14-day SHN and clearing a COVID-19 test, they will then be brought to the Migrant Workers Onboarding Centre (MWOC) for an additional seven-day testing regime and pass another COVID-10 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test before leaving.
Earlier, some of these workers were only required to undergo four days of SHN in dedicated facilities before being sent to Quick Build Dormitories serving as MWOCs for the remaining of their SHN days, as well as for the seven-day testing regime.
For those with a positive serology result, they did not even have to serve the 14-day SHN period.
As for surveillance measures, Dr Tan said at a virtual press conference on Thursday (22 Apr) that all newly arrived workers, which again include those with a positive serology result, will have to undergo a rostered routine testing (RRT) regime, where they will be tested for the coronavirus every two weeks.
They were previously exempt from this.
On Thursday, the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced that 17 migrant workers living in Westlite Woodlands dormitory who have recovered from COVID-19 have been tested positive for the virus.
Dr Tan noted that it will be compulsory for all migrant workers living in dormitories, as well as workers in construction, marine and process sectors who have recovered from COVID-19 to undergo RRT once they’ve passed their 270 days from the date of past infection.
This officially takes effect from 29 Apr.
“The Ministry of Health (MOH) and Ministry of Manpower (MOM) have always monitored the situation for recovered workers. The latest scientific evidence from the cohort of recovered persons in Singapore nearing one year from the date of infection suggests a possible gradual decrease in their antibody levels,” he said.
He added, “Although this is just one indicator of immunity, given the new variants of the virus emerging, the risk of breakthrough immune protection could have increased.”
“Both MOH and MOM decided to take this step after jointly reviewing the testing regime, and this is in consultation with the infectious disease specialists. With this additional precautions, we will be casting the net wider, allowing us to intervene more quickly and stepping up measures to contain any detected infections.”
Netizens criticise Govt’s “reactive” measures in pandemic management and for ignoring calls to ban travellers from countries with high number of daily cases
On social media, online users condemned the Government for their reactive approach in handling the pandemic.
Penning their comments on CNA’s Facebook page, they said that while India has been recording such high number of cases, the Government still allowed travellers from that country to enter Singapore.
One user even said “shame on you” to the Government for turning a deaf ear when members of the public have been calling for a ban on travellers from India.
“When India is having such ‘happening’ situation and already having constant signs of imported infection from India, they just wait for infection to slip through the community before placing stricter measures,” another user said.
The user added, “Very reactive rather than pro-actively preventive”.
Some pointed out that the Government is putting its guard down when it comes to dealing with the pandemic. They said that there is little enforcement to ensure that the public follows the preventative measures set up to control the spread of the virus in the country.
A number of them questioned why the 11 positive cases from Westlite Woodlands dormitory reported on Wednesday did not appear in MOH’s case count on that day itself.
They expressed doubts in the daily count reported by MOH and that Singapore is definitely recording more positive cases than what the Ministry is reporting.