Overcoming COVID-19 Together: Timeline for Clearance of Dormitories • Overview of Tests • Final Clearance

23 Jun 2020

Ref No.: 230620 (1)

UEN: S97SS0046G

Dear Valued ASPRI Members,

Overcoming COVID-19 Together: Timeline for Clearance of Dormitories • Overview of Tests • Final Clearance

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) stated that the Inter-agency Task Force (ITF) will be clearing all remaining dormitories in the coming months. Their aim is to test and clear workers as quickly as they can, while safeguarding the good health of all residents by ensuring they are tested negative or have recovered from COVID-19 before resuming work.
An indicative forecast of dormitories and blocks to be cleared in the coming weeks will be provided. This is to aid employers and dormitory operators in their planning. The schedule can be found here.
The order of clearance of blocks and dormitories are based on:
•    The number of recovered workers originally from the dormitory and who have been discharged
•    The spread of COVID-19 in the dormitory
•    Inputs from the Building & Construction Authority (BCA) and Economic Development Board (EDB)
The timing of clearance is also subject to revision, as it depends on:
•    Screening outcomes: Sometimes one test is not enough – workers may have to go through a few tests, and be isolated for a certain period of time. This is to make sure they are clear of COVID-19 and not incubating the virus. On the other hand, in some dormitories, a single round of test is able to clear many blocks without a further test.
•    Adherence to Safe Distancing: Clearance may be delayed if residents are not sufficiently stringent in practising safe distancing. For example, a Purpose-Built Dormitory (PBD) with a low infection rate has seen its expected clearance date pushed back by at least a month, because residents did not maintain strict safe distancing measures (SDM), and several instances of residents visiting other rooms were detected.
The ITF will be testing all foreign workers in dormitories to allow all to safely return to work. Testing first started in May 2020 and they will start testing at all dormitories by July 2020.
Workers may have to undergo a few stages of testing with a mix of serology (blood) and swab tests, depending on the level of infection at the dormitory. Serology test is done to check if the workers have COVID-19 antibodies. If they do, it means that they have had COVID-19 before and is now recovering. Swab test is done to check if they have COVID-19. The ITF has devised differentiated testing strategies to determine if workers are cleared of COVID-19 to work as quickly as possible and ensure that they are given appropriate medical care.
Workers may be moved to a different location in the dormitory or a facility outside the dormitory depending on their health status to provide them with better care. MOM will keep the workers informed on the tests they have to undergo and their health status.
Employers should assure their workers that the testing is part of the plan to ensure that they are well and can resume work safely when workplaces re-open.
When dormitories are declared cleared of COVID-19, dormitory operators will receive an email from MOM to inform them. Employers should work with dormitory operators and workers to make the final preparations. Key steps are summarised in the appended infographic and details can be found here.
Only when the preparations are completed will the dormitory be given final clearance for workers to leave for work. MOM will again inform the dormitory operators once the final approval is given. The workers’ AccessCode in SGWorkPass app will turn green if their companies are also approved to resume operations by the respective agencies.
If your workers’ AccessCode is green and can go to work, kindly share with them this step-by-step video guide on what they need to do when they return to work. You can access the video here. The videos are also made available in the foreign workers’ native languages.