Singapore — The owner of a local small-and-medium enterprise (SME) says that two of his migrant workers who tested positive for Covid-19 were told to return to their dormitory rooms instead of being sent to an isolation facility.
The employer, who posted on Facebook as Jianxiong James, wrote that the two workers were on July 15 asked to undergo a Covid-19 swab test. The next day, the Ministry of Health (MOH) informed them via SMS that they had tested positive for Covid-19.
The workers then headed to the security post to report that they were Covid-19 positive but were asked to return to their rooms.
The employer called the dormitory operator and asked why workers who had tested positive were not isolated. The operator allegedly said the workers were instructed to return to their rooms because isolation facilities were full.
The employer called the MOH hotline on July 17 to alert it about the matter. He said the staff he spoke to were “shocked” and apologised on behalf of the ministry. They asked him for the particulars of his workers even though MOH had conducted the swab tests and SMSed the workers concerned.
He subsequently received a call from another department asking him the same questions. This was followed by a call from a third department giving him the assurance that his workers would be well taken care of. He claims that he did not get a direct response when he asked for details about the swab test.
The first two workers who tested positive were sent to the recovery facilities at Big Box on July 18 — two days after they received the results. This could have caused a third worker to fall ill. He is currently isolated and is due to be sent to the care facility at Changi Expo.
The employer called the dorm operator again on Tuesday (July 21) and was told that the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) had released 500 workers for work because they had recovered from the virus.
He asked on Facebook:
“Then what about those workers that have been tested negative all these while? What if they mix with the general population and contracted COVID again? How long will they still need to be locked up in their rooms? It has been 3 months and 2 weeks. Try locking yourself in a room for that extended period.”
The employer also asked why there did not seem to be a standard operating procedure for all ministries on handling Covid-19 positive workers. He said sending Covid-19 positive workers back to their rooms would cause unnecessary panic among fellow workers, given the highly infectious nature of the virus.
He felt that the multi-ministry task force had also “failed” to address how the pandemic could affect the metal health of workers.
He added that the ministries do not inform employers of any updates or the test results of their workers and that they only learn about them from text messages sent by the latter. He asked: “In this evolving covid situation, wouldn’t it be in the best interest for the ministries to work closely with the employers?”
The employer, who checks on his workers’ well-being daily, expressed concern that the number of Covid-19 cases in the dormitories will continue to remain high given the way his workers were handled.
On a separate note, he said the MOM had started collecting foreign worker levies and asked how SMEs could survive since their workers were still unable to work. Although the levies for June were slashed by 50 per cent, those from July are at the usual rate.
He has appealed to the MOM on the matter but has yet to receive a response from it.
Ministry of Manpower – Mom Ministry of Health, Singapore CNAThe Straits Times Josephine Teo Gan Kim Yong Lee Hsien…