COVID-19: Migrant workers may now be quarantined by levels instead of entire blocks

·3-min read
Safe-living measures at Westlite Woodlands Dormitory. (PHOTO: Ministry of Manpower)
Safe-living measures at Westlite Woodlands Dormitory. (PHOTO: Ministry of Manpower)

SINGAPORE — Migrant workers in dormitories may now be quarantined by levels or sections instead of entire blocks, following a review of the quarantine approach to minimise work disruption due to new COVID-19 infections.

In a joint media release on Friday (25 September), the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and Ministry of Health (MOH) added that, in view of latest medical evidence, migrant workers who have recovered from COVID-19 and are within 150 days from their infection will not be quarantined, as they continue to have antibodies to guard against reinfection.

These changes come after a review of the results for more than 31 purpose-built dormitories, 20 decant sites, as well as 107 factory-converted dormitories and construction temporary quarters, and the outcomes following the imposition of quarantine.

The ministries also took into account that many dormitories have since implemented tighter safe living measures to limit inter-mixing between residents.

For workers to be quarantined by levels or sections, the dormitory must have no inter-mixing among workers; the workers must also observe safe-living measures, and segregation measures must be put in place by dormitory operators.

One such dormitory is the Westlite Woodlands dormitory. Following detection of a new infection through rostered routine testing (RRT), only 68 workers were quarantined on one level, instead of all 318 workers in the affected block.

This is because proper safe living measures were in place to ensure segregation, such that the remaining six levels were not affected.

232 new COVID-19 cases since 11 August

According to the media release, 232 new COVID-19 cases were detected through RRT since all dormitories were declared clear of the coronavirus on 11 August.

MOM and MOH said that, whenever a new case was discovered, the initial strategy was to quickly ring-fence the other workers living in the same dormitory block, and to test and isolate them to prevent further spread.

Under the original measures, workers in the same block would be quarantined if they were not previously infected, or if 120 days have passed since their previous infection.

The Assurance, Care and Engagement Group (ACE Group), the MOM division in charge of dormitory COVID-19 operations, said it would continue to refine its quarantine strategy as advised by MOH, and based on the latest knowledge, on how transmission spread occurs in dormitory clusters, the specific risks in individual dormitories, and the susceptibility of recovered workers to reinfection.

It also urges dormitory operators to sustain the safe-living measures, workers to continue complying with the measures and remain within their residential zone, and employers to ensure their workers to adhere to the measures as well as undergo RRT consistently.

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