Former Singaporean DJ and model Jade Rasif took to Instagram on Sunday (16 May) to share her bad experience with the COVID-19 quarantine orders received from the authorities.
Sharing her encounter in a series of Instagram Stories, Ms Rasif said that it all started when her helper, who had just arrived from Indonesia, was sent back to the social media influencer’s house after observing only three to four days of her quarantine period at a quarantine centre.
Ms Rasif initially paid S$2500 for her domestic helper to be quarantined for 14 days, upon her arrival from Indonesia. However, she received a call from the quarantine centre after only three to four days, stating that Ms Rasif has 12 hours to pick the Indonesian woman back home.
“We were like… Umm I think y’all should quarantine her?! The person on the phone said ‘Oh she’s recovered from COVID, so it’s chill’.
“And we were like.. Ok y’all are the Government so y’all know best. Not questioning the guy was the biggest mistake of my life guys,” she said in her Instagram Stories.
As the global cases of COVID-19 continue to soar, the Singapore Government has taken steps to tighten border measures by making it compulsory for travellers with recent travel history to higher risk countries/regions to serve a 21-day Stay Home Notice (SHN) at dedicated facilities.
This is an extension from the previous 14 days SHN.
Domestic helper tested positive for COVID-19 after mingling with the community
Since the Indonesian helper was cleared by the authorities after observing just three to four days of her 14 days quarantine period, the domestic worker started going out and visiting places in Singapore, said Ms Rasif, who is currently a full-time healthcare worker.
However, two weeks later, Ms Rasif received a call asking her helper to go for a sudden COVID-19 test, and her result came out positive.
The ambulance then came and picked up the Indonesian helper to a quarantine centre, and this left the former DJ worried as she had no idea what her next course of action should be.
She wondered if she was supposed to be quarantined, given that she was a close contact with her domestic helper.
To her surprise, the authorities did not ask Ms Rasif and her family to be quarantined, or even observe the stay-home notice.
“But no I am free to roam the streets. No quarantine, No SHN. Ok so I contact my colleagues, family and friends, and I’m like sorry my maid has COVID-19 and is in quarantine. And we are all losing our minds. We have no one to call, no one to talk to, no number,” she wrote.
Two days after Ms Rasif’s domestic helper was quarantined, she tried contacting the ambulance driver via WhatsApp, as she claims it was the only contact number she was given. To her horror, the woman replied her with profanity.
At this point, Ms Rasif decided to self-quarantine but she had to appear in court for a case.
“So I let the court know my maid has COVID-19. They’re like… Do you have proof? No. A letter? No. A WhatsApp? No,” she wrote.
She continued, “So guess what happens? I get 2 police calling me to investigate me for violating a quarantine order. A quarantine order I was never given.”
She went on to note that her whole week was horrible as she was feeling guilty for putting people she work with at risk, being investigated by the police and forking out S$200 for each of her family to be voluntarily tested for COVID-19 since the authorities did not test them.
Soon after that, someone from the quarantine centre called Ms Rasif informing that her domestic helper is “non-infectious and asymptomatic” but will be required to be quarantined for three weeks.
If that’s not bad enough, Ms Rasif also got to know that her domestic worker was indeed positive for COVID-19 when she was initially sent to the social media influencer’s house to work, but was deemed non-infectious.
In the end, Ms Rasif and her family were tested negative for the deadly coronavirus, and her domestic worker has also been discharged after serving her quarantine period.
She also added that everyone in her family has been vaccinated, except for her son who is a toddler.
Netizens sharing similar experiences
In her Instagram Stories, Ms Rasif also shared stories from other netizens who encountered a similar experience like her.
They said that people that they know coming from countries like Indonesia or India were not asked to serve the complete period of their SHN.
Ms Rasif also went on to disclose that her domestic helper was not even listed in the daily COVID-19 positive cases by the Ministry of Health (MOH).
In response to this, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) clarified in a Facebook post on Monday (17 May) that Ms Rasif’s account was “inaccurate” and her domestic helper has been “assessed to be free from current COVID infection and had not posed a risk to her employer’s family”.
The Indonesian national entered Singapore on 11 April, and was tested for COVID-19 upon arrival, MOM said.
It added that the foreign national was “tested negative on Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and positive on serology tests, and was assessed to have recovered from an old infection and antibodies against COVID-19”.
As such, she was deemed to be safe and permitted to be discharged from her SHN on 13 April.
Following that, the Ministry of Health (MOH) and MOM decided to test the maid again due to the “worsening COVID-19 situation and new understanding of the infectiousness of variants of concern in the region.”
“So although the MDW (Migrant Domestic Worker) is recovered from an old infection and at low risk of reinfection, we wanted to be sure,” MOM pointed out.
It went on to note that though the domestic worker had tested positive on the PCR test, there were “indications” pointing that this was from an old infection which the test was detecting dead viral fragments from.
“Further medical clinical assessment was needed to confirm that it was not a re-infection case,” the ministry said.
As a reply to Ms Rasif’s concerns on why her domestic helper was not be labelled as a case number despite testing positive on the PCR test, MOM said that individuals are not classified as COVID-19 cases while clinical assessment is still ongoing.
“From our experience, most recovered individuals who test positive on PCR do so because they are shedding dead viral fragments from an old infection and are not active COVID-19 infections. Only the latter require a case number,” the Ministry noted.
It added, “As the risk that the MDW has a current infection remained low, members of the household can continue their daily activities.”
“Ms Jade claimed to have been investigated for breach of quarantine. The family were not issued Quarantine Orders (QO), and there could not have been investigations made for breach of quarantine, when no QO was issued in the first place.”
As for Ms Rasif’s claim that she was not able to contact anyone to find out her domestic helper’s situation, MOM explained that the two ministries had contacted the Indonesian national’s employer – identified only as a “family member of Ms Jade” – on two occasions.
“On 5 May 2021, MOM emailed Ms Jade’s family member to explain that the MDW needed further assessment to determine if she tested PCR positive because of an old infection or had a current infection. In that letter emailed, MOM’s contact numbers were included. On 6 May 2021, MOM called the family member to explain verbally the need for further test on their MDW,” it explained.
Three days after the call, MOM said that the domestic helper was “assessed to be shedding dead viral fragments”, recovered from an old COVID-19 infection and was no longer infectious.
“The MDW was medically fit for discharge and returned to her employer. This finding is consistent with the earlier determination of the MDW as recovered from an old infection when she first entered Singapore. The MDW had not posed a risk to the employer’s family.
“MOM had also reached out to her family when we received an email from her/family on the complaint made against the ambulance driver. We hope to receive more details that will enable us to assist the family with the complaint,” MOM concluded.
Responding to the Ministry’s post, Ms Rasif said that she would “love to assist in (MOM’s) investigations”.
“There are other families whose helpers were not recovered who have been placed on SHN. They have reached out to me to seek clarification,” she said.
“I hope MOM will reach out and provide support for the affected parties.”
FDWs allowed to mingle with the community
It was previously reported that Foreign Domestic Workers (FDWs) who have recovered from COVID-19 infection are allowed to enter Singapore and forego their quarantine period.
In response to a query from TOC, MOH said that FDWs with a recent travel history to higher-risk countries/regions will have to take an on-arrival serology test. This protocol was implemented starting 5 February 2021, said MOH Quality Service Manager Yasmin Nisha.
The on-arrival serology test will be done in addition to the on-arrival polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test requirement that has been in place since 24 January this year.
“The additional on-arrival serology test will allow for the identification of workers who have recovered from an old COVID-19 infection and have antibodies,” said MOM.
“They can therefore be released from SHN.”
This basically means that FDWs are allowed to mingle with the community. They’re allowed to go out and about unrestricted, adhering to prevailing safety measures that the rest of the community had to follow as well.