Tighter measures for workers from dorms, certain sectors infected 270 days ago with COVID-19

In this Sunday, May 10, 2020, photo, people sit outside a building balcony at the S11@Punggol, a complex of dormitory buildings for foreign workers in Singapore. A second wave of coronavirus infections in tightly packed foreign workers' dormitories has caught Singapore off guard, and exposed the danger of overlooking marginal groups in a health crisis. (AP Photo/YK Chan)
S11@Punggol, a complex of dormitory buildings for foreign workers in Singapore. (PHOTO: AP)

SINGAPORE — The authorities will impose additional measures for workers who stay in dormitories or are from the construction, marine and process (CMP) sectors, and were first infected 270 days ago with COVID-19, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Thursday (22 April).

“MOH and MOM, in consultation with infectious disease specialists, have reviewed the latest scientific evidence from the cohort of recovered persons in Singapore nearing one year from the date of infection and found that the evidence suggests a possible gradual decrease in antibody levels in recovered persons,” the MOH said in a statement.

“Immunity in recovered persons can wane, and caution is required around the infection risks in recovered persons.”

With effect from 29 April, workers who reside in dormitories or are CMP workers, and have crossed 270 days from the date of COVID-19 infection will no longer be exempted from prevailing public health measures. They will be enrolled back on the rostered routine testing regime. If identified as close contacts, they will be subjected to quarantine to identify potential re-infection and mitigate the risk of spread.

With the emergence of new variants of concern around the world, the authorities will closely monitor for re-infection of recovered COVID-19 cases, and are reviewing border measures for recovered travellers.

“Imported cases suspected of re-infection will be isolated and undergo repeat COVID-19 PCR tests to monitor the trend of their viral loads, to ensure that such cases are detected promptly.”

On Tuesday, a 35-year-old migrant worker living in Westlite Woodlands Dormitory was tested for COVID-19. His close contacts at the dormitory and workplace were isolated and placed on quarantine. As a precautionary measure, special COVID-19 testing operations are being conducted at the dormitory.

As of Thursday, a total of 17 recovered workers were found to be COVID-19 positive, in addition to the worker who had earlier been placed under quarantine. These cases were immediately isolated and conveyed to NCID.

MOH and medical experts are investigating for possible re-infection or if the workers are persistent shedders from their earlier infection.

“In the meantime, public health measures to prevent and contain the possible spread of infection have been implemented in the dormitory, include imposing quarantine orders on workers at the affected blocks and widening the extent of the special testing operations to the entire dormitory,” MOH said.

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