Workers in dorms relieved at changes to health protocols
The Straits Times|October 17, 2021
But dorm operators struggling to cope with new rules, surge in cases amid a manpower crunch
Lim Min Zhang and Wallace Woon

When Bangladeshi construction worker Titu Md Majadur Rahman used a self-administered antigen rapid test (ART) and tested positive for Covid-19 last Wednesday, he was sent to a recovery facility in the S11 dormitory in Punggol where he stays.

After he tested negative yesterday – on Day 4 – he was allowed to return to his own room.

These changes in health protocols announced earlier this month, which include using quicker and less-invasive ARTs and recovery within dorms, have come as a relief to residents.

Mr Titu, 36, who has been working in Singapore since 2009, said a whole block in the dorm – once the site of the biggest cluster in Singapore – would previously have been locked down when one person tested positive on a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. The complex can house 14,000 workers.

“Now it’s just one room at a time... Every worker knows what the procedures are if they test positive so it’s not so scary. We are all vaccinated, and the Government and healthcare in Singapore are good, so we aren’t worried,” he said.

While the updated protocols for migrant worker dorms have meant fewer disruptions to work and life, an incident at Jalan Tukang Westlite dormitory last Wednesday has highlighted the difficulties faced by dorm operators trying to cope with changing rules and a surge in cases.

Workers at the dorm in Jurong said they were not given proper access to medical support or properly isolated after they tested positive for Covid-19. Things came to a head when workers were seen gathering in the dorm to speak with staff, in videos posted online.

The Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM’s) Assurance, Care and Engagement group chief Tung Yui Fai said during a visit to the dorm on Friday that an unexpected increase in workers who tested positive there had contributed to delays in sending them to recovery and healthcare facilities.

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