Dorm Residents Relieved by Changes to Covid-19 Health Protocols, Singapore News & Top Stories

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

After testing negative on Saturday (October 16) – day 4 – he was allowed to return to his own room.

These changes in health protocols announced earlier this month, which include the use of faster, less invasive ART and recovery in dormitories, have been a relief for residents.

Mr Titu, 36, who has worked in Singapore since 2009, said an entire block in the dormitory – once the site of Singapore’s largest cluster – would have already been locked down when a person tested positive on a reaction polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. The complex can house 14,000 workers.

“Now it’s only one room at a time… Every worker knows what the procedures are if he’s positive, so it’s not that scary. We’re all vaccinated, and the government and healthcare in Singapore are good, so we’re not worried, “he said.

While updated protocols for migrant worker dormitories resulted in less disruption to work and life, an incident at Jalan Tukang Westlite dormitory last Wednesday highlighted the difficulties faced by dormitory operators trying to cope. changes in rules and an increase in cases.

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

The head of the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) Insurance, Care and Commitment Group, Tung Yui Fai, said during a visit to the dormitory on Friday that an unexpected increase in the number of workers testing positive there had helped delay their dispatch to recovery and health facilities.

But in the last two days since his division intervened, transport has gone smoothly, without significant delays, he added.

In a statement on Saturday, MOM said 55% of workers staying at Jalan Tukang dormitory have checked their immunization status or have been vaccinated. The rest are either awaiting verification or have not received a vaccine by special access route in the event of a pandemic or emergency registration procedure from the World Health Organization.

Mr Eugene Aw, commercial director of RT Group, a company that operates five dormitories turned into a factory, said operators were struggling to carry out instructions from authorities amid a labor shortage.

“There is some confusion because there has been an overwhelming amount of information and workload,” he said.

They also relearn how to handle positive cases. In the past, the movement of workers who tested positive was restricted, but they can now return to work if they are negative on day 4 or 7 after infection.

Mr Aw said there were also cases where workers tested negative, but an app they use has shown that they should not be allowed to leave the dormitory.

“As dormitory operators, we don’t know who is responsible for their movements,” he said.

Amid the confusion, an employer, who spoke to the Sunday Times, has moved six of its workers from a purpose-built dormitory to temporary quarters. The director of the construction company said the dormitory failed to properly isolate its workers after their group Covid-19 test last month produced inconclusive results.

“I really cherish my workers very much. So it is very sad that we put so much care and effort into taking care of them, and that they strove to take care of themselves at work, and yet they have been put in much more danger to which they have never been exposed, ”said the employer, who declined to be named.

But the situation is very different from what it was during the blackout period last year, dormitory operators said.

There are no longer movement restrictions affecting large numbers of residents, preventing them from going to work, said Johnathan Cheah, managing director of S11 Dormitories.

He also set up recovery facilities in dormitories to isolate workers who test positive for antiretrovirals, he said, adding that they have 2.5% of the dormitory’s capacity of 14,000. beds. 3,000 additional beds have also been reserved by the dormitory as a centralized recovery facility.

Designated workers in each room have been trained to oversee ART performed in rooms and ensure their roommates follow the protocol for uploading their test results, he said.

MV Manimaran, director of operations at Wee Chwee Huat Scaffolding and Construction, said for the Woodlands dormitory run by his company, positive cases are being moved to recover elsewhere, such as at Covid-19 treatment facilities.

The updated protocols have been less disruptive, he said. “We hope that this decision can bring us soon to an endemic state of Covid-19. “


Cases in dormitories

After 10 months of near-zero cases in migrant worker dormitories since October last year, infections have resurfaced in recent months as Singapore begins its transition to living with Covid-19. Here’s how the workload compares to last year.

New measures since October 2

Trial

Gradually, only the rapid antigen test (ART) will be used for scheduled routine tests. Dormitory residents with symptoms of acute respiratory illness should continue to self-report sick at one of the regional medical centers and a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test will be administered if necessary.

Trace

Quarantine orders will only be issued to roommates of those who test positive for PCR. The quarantine period will also be reduced from 14 days to 10 days from the date of the last exposure to the confirmed case, with workers having to self-administer ART from day 11 to day 14. Other close contacts in the hospital dorm rooms can receive either a health risk warning or health risk alert.

Isolate

Fully vaccinated workers who have tested positive for Covid-19 and have no symptoms can self-isolate and recover in a dedicated facility within dormitories for up to 10 days. Symptomatic workers will receive a confirmatory PCR test and be taken to community care facilities or hospitals depending on their condition.


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