COVID-19: Migrant workers to return to community in phases from 1Q 2021 – MOM

Wan Ting Koh
·Reporter
·2-min read

SINGAPORE — With the transition into Phase 3 of Singapore’s reopening on 28 December, migrant workers will be returning to the community in a “controlled manner”, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Monday (14 December).

During a multi-ministry taskforce conference to give more details on the start of Phase 3, Second Manpower Minister Dr Tan See Leng said that the MOM will be starting a pilot scheme in the first quarter of 2021 to allow migrant workers in some dormitories to access the community once a month.

The scheme will be subject to compliance with rostered routine testing (RRT), wearing of contact-tracing devices and safe living measures.

“As we transition into Phase 3, we will gradually relax the restrictions on our migrant workers. Migrant workers can access communal facilities in the dormitories, such as cooking stations, and sports facilities. They can now visit recreational centres more often to access their daily needs. For example, to go to the barber or even for remittance of money back to their home country services,” said Dr Tan.

Migrant workers work at a construction site in Singapore on August 20, 2020. - About 86 per cent of foreign workers in the construction, marine and process sectors have been allowed to resume work, up from the 81 per cent announced last week, as the Ministry of Manpower announced on August 19 that all dormitories housing migrant workers were declared cleared of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus. (Photo by Roslan RAHMAN / AFP) (Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Migrant workers work at a construction site in Singapore on 20 August 2020. (PHOTO: AFP via Getty Images)

He noted that by August this year, all migrant workers living in dormitories had been tested at least once for COVID-19. “13 October was a significant milestone for us: there were no new cases detected in the dormitories for the first time since 25 March,” said Dr Tan.

He also said that the morbidity and mortality rates amongst migrant workers here are very low.

The government said it will continue with RRT of workers who may still be susceptible to infection to detect and contain new infections.

All such workers living in dormitories, and those who work in the construction, marine and process sectors, have been undergoing RRT once every two weeks.

“We have now completed several cycles of routine testing, and the number of new infections detected have remained consistently very low for the past eight weeks,” said Dr Tan.

He added, “(We) have to remain vigilant even as we make progressive steps to ease restrictions for our migrant workers, aggressive routine testing using both PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and antigen rapid tests, as well as isolation strategies will remain a cornerstone in our multi-layered strategy to detect new infections.”

Dr Tan also thanked the migrant worker population here for their cooperation in tackling the pandemic in Singapore.

“We could not have contained this virus without the determination, the cooperation, the patience, and the understanding of the migrant workers in the dormitories. They worked with us, quickly adopted the safe living practices, and cooperated with all the measures in place,” he said.

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