The recent report about a fully vaccinated 88-year-old male cleaner who was infected with the coronavirus has caught the attention of many netizens, as many of them wonder why an elderly man like him would still have to continue working at COVID-19 high-risk location.
Earlier on 6 May, the Ministry of Health (MOH) reported two community cases of COVID-19 involving a cleaner deployed at Changi Airport Terminal 3 and a full-time national serviceman (NSF).
The 88-year-old Singaporean, referred to as Case 62873, is employed by Ramky Cleantech Services as a cleaner and deployed at the airport.
He developed a runny nose and cough on 4 May and sought medical treatment at a general practitioner clinic, where he was tested for COVID-19.
MOH noted that his test result came back positive on the following day and he was taken to Sengkang General Hospital in an ambulance.
The Ministry added that the patient’s earlier tests from rostered routine testing (RRT) – the last being on 16 Apr – were all negative for the virus. His serological test result is pending.
It was stated that the man received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on 22 January and the second dose on 15 February.
Many of them expressed that they feel “sad” to know that an 88-year-old man would still need to work in Singapore, asking “where did we go wrong?”
One netizen wrote: “This is really heartbreaking. Still working as a cleaner at 88. And yet they still want to happy happy open borders to high risk countries.”
One netizen urged policymakers to look into the issues of elderly people continued working in Singapore, saying that “nobody at this age should be working ‘as a form of exercise’ or ‘to pass time'”.
Some netizens pointed out that the elderly man should not be deployed at COVID-19 high-risk location in the first place.
Back in May 2019, the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP) at National University of Singapore published a survey findings, revealing for the first time that an older Singaporean above 65 years old would need $1,379 a month to meet his or her basic needs.
The household budgets necessary to meet basic needs were $1,379 per month for single elderly households, $2,351 per month for elderly couples.
For those aged aged 55 to 64 years old, they would need a minimum of $1,721 per month for a person to live in Singapore.
The sums were derived from focus group discussions involving more than 100 participants from diverse backgrounds, and using a consensus-based methodology known as Minimum Income Standards (MIS).