COVID-19: Employers to send dorm-staying workers for swab tests every 14 days

Staff Writer, Singapore
·Editorial Team
·3-min read
Migrant workers are seen resting at balcony after lunch time at the dormitories that houses foreign workers and has been made into an isolation area to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Singapore on April 22, 2020. (Photo by Roslan RAHMAN / AFP) (Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Migrant workers at the dormitories that houses foreign workers in Singapore. (PHOTO: Roslan Rahman/AFP via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — With the completion of COVID-19 testing of all migrant workers staying in dormitories, the Inter-agency Task Force (ITF) will be shifting its priority to guarding against new infections as the workers return to daily work.

In a joint media release on Tuesday (11 August) by Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Building and Construction Authority (BCA), Economic Development Board (EDB) and Health Promotion Board (HPB) said that employers of workers that need to be regularly tested are required to arrange for their workers to undergo the COVID-19 swab tests every 14 days at a regional screening centre, or an in-dormitory test centre where available.

The employers should space out the testing of their workers over the 14-day period to ensure that authorities are able to maintain constant surveillance of the COVID-19 situation among the workers.

To help the employers book swab tests for their workers, HPB has launched the Swab Registration System to enable employers to book appointment slots for the testing of their workers.

Employers can make use of the system to select the swab location and testing date for their workers. They are encouraged to check the system regularly to book appointments for their workers.

Four key layers of safeguards in dormitories

Dormitories have been putting in place safe-living measures to allow workers to resume work while minimising the risk of renewed infections.

These measures include having staggered pickup/drop-off timings, updating of the workers’ residence addresses, and minimising mixing between blocks. Employers and workers are also required to observe proper safe distancing measures at the workplace.

ITF listed four key layers of safeguards to manage the risk of new outbreaks in dormitories:

  • Workers are required to self-monitor their health. They are required to report their temperature and also if they have any acute respiratory illness symptoms through the FWMOMCare App twice a day. Workers who report symptoms will be identified and cared for immediately.

  • ITF will monitor the number of migrant workers who report sick at the medical posts, as an early indication of any possible infections.

  • ITF will also monitor the waste water from higher risk dormitories for traces of the COVID-19 virus.

  • Workers in higher risk settings are put through regular routine testing. This includes workers staying in dormitories and workers who work onsite in the construction, marine and process sectors. They are required to go for a swab test every 14 days. Workers who were infected previously and have recovered from COVID-19 are not required to undergo regular testing for 180 days.

Should there be potential infections among migrant workers, the ITF will isolate and quarantine all at-risk workers within the blocks housing the infected workers, as a precautionary measure. Aggressive testing will be conducted to identify any further spread of the virus.

Workers who have recovered for less than 90 days will not need to be isolated as current medical evidence suggests that they continue to have immunity.

Those who have recovered for more than 90 days from their original illness will be clinically assessed as to whether they will require repeat testing and isolation if they develop fresh respiratory symptoms.

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