News Recap – 27 Nov to 03 Dec

Ref No: 031221 (2)
UEN: S97SS0046G

Key highlights from recent news on Covid-19, MOM, Migrant Workers, and Sustainability below


1/2: Those who took Sinovac, Sinopharm COVID-19 jabs reminded to get 3rd dose to keep vaccination status

People who have received two doses of the Sinovac or Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine are reminded to take their third dose to be considered fully vaccinated from Jan 1.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) said that since Wednesday (Dec 1), it has been progressively sending out SMS notifications to 70,000 people who have received two doses of these vaccines. They are eligible to take their third dose three months after their second jab.

“To maintain their fully vaccinated status from Jan 1, 2022, onwards, they are strongly encouraged to take their third dose before Dec 31, 2021, as long as their second dose had been administered three months ago,” said MOH on Thursday.

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2/2: Travellers using vaccinated travel lane from Singapore to South Korea exempted from 10-day quarantine

Travellers using the vaccinated travel lane (VTL) from Singapore to South Korea will not have to undergo quarantine, the South Korean Embassy in Singapore said on its website on Thursday (Dec 2).

This comes a day after South Korea announced it would impose a 10-day quarantine on all travellers from Friday – regardless of vaccination status – due to concerns over the Omicron variant.

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The Ministry of Manpower

1/1: S’pore’s resident employment, incomes recover, but labour market still troubled by Covid-19

Singapore’s labour market is slowly recovering – with more people being employed and incomes rebounding – but resident unemployment rates remain elevated, according to advance estimates released by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

The median income of residents – Singaporeans and permanent residents – rose above pre-Covid-19 levels this year, rebounding from last year when it took a hit for the first time in 16 years because of the pandemic.

The overall employment rate of residents aged 15 and above also grew to 67.2 per cent in June, up from 64.5 per cent a year earlier, the ministry said in its annual report on Wednesday (Dec 1). This is also higher than the 65.2 per cent in June 2019.

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Migrant workers

1/2: Non-profit organisation HealthServe, which runs migrant workers’ helpline, among 10 MOM award recipients

Since non-profit organisation HealthServe launched a 24-hour helpline for migrant workers in August, it has received about 400 calls each month.

More calls were recorded when tighter Covid-19 measures were announced, when there was a crisis in workers’ home countries and during festive seasons. The helpline is manned by  trained volunteers and counsellors, some of whom can converse in the workers’ native tongue.

“The drawn-out pandemic and prolonged social isolation have placed a major strain on the mental health of the underserved migrant worker community in Singapore,” said Mr Michael Cheah, executive director of HealthServe.

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2/2: New primary care plan introduced to keep healthcare services affordable for migrant workers

A new primary care plan has been introduced to ensure that healthcare services for migrant workers are kept affordable, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Monday (Nov 29).

Medical consultations and treatments, medical examinations for work pass purposes, and telemedicine services will be covered under the plan, which is part of a new primary healthcare system for workers, the ministry said in a press release.

Prices of primary care plans range from S$108 to S$145 per worker annually and can be paid by employers in regular instalments, such as monthly payments.

This gives employers a “greater peace of mind” when migrant workers seek medical care, Minister for Manpower Tan See Leng said at a signing ceremony for the Memorandum of Understanding for Project MigrantWell on Monday.

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1/2: Singapore LNG teams up with Linde Gas to study CO2 liquefaction facility

Singapore LNG Corp (SLNG) and Linde Gas Singapore said on Monday they have agreed to explore the feasibility and development of a carbon dioxide liquefaction and storage facility.

The facility would use cold energy from SLNG liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal’s operations to liquefy carbon dioxide which would then be stored in tanks on site before transported for end use, the companies said, adding it was a memorandum of understanding.

Singapore is aiming to realise at least 2 million tonnes of carbon capture potential by 2030 as part of a broader effort to make its Jurong Island oil refinery hub more sustainable, the country’s Economic Development Board said last week.

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2/2: Turning fungi into ‘bricks’ for construction

A house or building made of mushrooms may sound far-fetched and fragile, but do not underestimate the strength of the mycelium, a hardy component of the fungi. Researchers in Singapore and Switzerland are now studying the use of mycelium as a sustainable building construction material.

Mycelium is the vast underground root network of fungi. The mushroom one sees is merely the fruiting body, making up just a small part of the fungus. This means the bulk of a fungus grows underground. In a 2019 documentary titled Fantastic Fungi, it was reported that there are 480km of mycelium under every footstep one takes in the forest. When cultured in the lab, a mass of mycelium looks like white fluff.

Although delicate-looking, this “fluff” is being turned into “mushroom bricks” for construction as part of a research project. The branching threads are made of substances such as chitin and cellulose that are known to be strong, said Assistant Professor Hortense Le Ferrand, a co-investigator in the project under the Future Cities Lab (FCL) Global programme.

The programme was launched late last year at the Singapore-ETH Centre – a collaborative research centre between Singapore institutions and Swiss university ETH Zurich.

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