Workers in dorms to be swabbed every 14 days for Covid-19

SINGAPORE – Routine swab tests of workers every fortnight and the close monitoring of wastewater for traces of the coronavirus are among measures put in place to ensure the massive efforts expended in clearing worker dormitories of Covid-19 do not go wasted.

This is even as new Covid-19 cases are already being detected at previously cleared dormitories, in a sign that the tentative victory against the virus in dorms remains a precarious one.

A joint-statement by the Ministry of Manpower, the Building and Construction Authority, the Economic Development Board and the Health Promotion Board on Tuesday (Aug 11) detailed some of the “safe living measures” employers and workers have to follow in the coming months as work in construction, marine and process sectors restart.

These include requiring workers to report their temperature and whether they have any acute respiratory illness symptoms through an app twice a day.

Workers in dormitories and those who work onsite in the construction, marine and process sectors will also have to be swab tested once every 14 days.

Workers who have recovered from Covid-19 are not required to undergo regular testing for 180 days.

A Swab Registration System has been set up for employers to book appointment slots at a regional screening centre or an in-dormitory test centre at some dorms for their workers.

However, employers should space out the testing of their workers over the 14-day period so that the authorities are able to “maintain constant surveillance of the Covid-19 situation”.

Other measures include staggered pick-up and drop-off timings for workers to and from their work sites, updating the workers’ residence addresses, and minimising mixing between blocks.

The numbers of workers who report sick at any medical post will also be monitored as early indications of possible clusters.

“With more daily movements in and out of the dormitories, it is even more important for everyone to remain vigilant to guard against new infections,” the joint statement said.

The inter-agency task force has prepared fast response plans to isolate and quarantine at-risk workers within the block if potential infections surface.

Comprising agencies such as the Singapore Armed Forces, Singapore Police Force, Migrant Workers’ Centre, Ministry of Health and the National Environment Agency, the task force’s role is to ensure the well-being of foreign workers and improve their living conditions by supporting dormitory operators.

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