Remember back in the days when every press conference by the multi-ministry task force set up to combat COVID-19 would be so highly anticipated that we even tried to guess if the colour of Lawrence Wong’s shirt could imply anything?
Fast forward to August and the number of press conferences held by the task force has dwindled, much like the number of COVID-19 community cases. The last press conference was held almost two weeks ago—so long ago that Lawrence Wong has turned from a National Development Minister to an Education Minister.
So, what’s new in today’s press conference (6 August 2020)?
Dormitories Will be Cleared by Tomorrow (7 August)
This isn’t new info, but it’s something that’s confirmed (again): all workers living in dormitories would have been tested by 7 August 2020. This means that all the dormitories will be COVID-19-cleared, with the exception of several standalone blocks which serve as quarantine facilities.
The workers in these quarantine facilities will be tested when their isolation ends. After completing their isolation, most of the workers will be able to resume work once the dormitory operators and employers complete the necessary preparations to do so in a safe manner.
So what does that mean?
Daily Cases Are Still Going to Fluctuate in Next Two Weeks
If you think we’re going to see headlines like this daily…
1 COVID-19 Case Today (8 Aug); Cats Cheering As Singapore Reopens KTVs
I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but that’s not going to happen.
At least not in the next two weeks.
You see, remember: these are still workers in the quarantine facilities, and they might still be infected. So technically speaking, while dormitories are cleared, dormitory quarantine facilities might still house many infected patients.
National Development Minister Education Minister Lawrence Wong said, “We don’t know how many will be testing positive or negative. It may well be that very high numbers test negative and then we will have very few case counts, but it may also be that a large number test positive.”
Because they would be tested as they clear their isolation periods, and they have different isolation periods, the next two weeks would still comprise “cases from dormitories”.
But the goody news is that most of the recovered workers are able to resume work soon.
Migrant Workers Returning to Work Soon
With the completion of dormitory clearance and facilitation of resumption of work by sector agencies, the vast majority of dormitory residents should be able to resume work by mid to late August.
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But just like us who have to wear a mask in an office, these workers would need to have safe-management practices, too, and theirs are a tad more complicated.
Safety Measures That Employers Must Fulfil for Migrant Workers
Now, even when the migrant workers can get back to work, the employers must have a system to keep them safe.
And it’s not just wearing of masks or not having lunch together.
For a start, the migrant workers must have dedicated transport between work sites and places of accommodation. They also cannot be cross-deployed between projects while also being segregated into different work zones.
For accommodation, all workers involved in a project must stay together.
Also, they have to take a COVID-19 test every 14 days.
Now you’re not complaining about having to wear a mask in the office, eh?
Singapore Residents Who Travel Back into Singapore Can Use Insurance to Pay for COVID-19 Treatments
Lest you’ve forgotten, the authorities have told us not to travel, and if you die-die do so, you’d have to pay for your own COVID-19 treatments if you come back and are tested positive, and you can’t claim from MediShield Life or Integrated Shield Plans in public and private hospitals (i.e. pay in full cash, and you should know how expensive Singapore healthcare is without subsidies and insurance).
From tomorrow (7 August 2020) onwards, it’ll be a tad different; all outbound Singapore residents (Singaporeans, Singapore PRs and Long-Term Pass Holders) who travel abroad under permitted travel arrangements will be able to tap on regular healthcare financing arrangements for their inpatient medical bills, should they have onset of symptoms within 14 days of their return to Singapore and require hospital admission for suspected COVID-19 infection.
In other words, Singaporeans / Singapore PRs will be eligible for Government subsidies and MediShield Life/ Integrated Shield Plans coverage, and will be required to pay any remaining co-payment. Long-Term Pass Holders may tap on their prevailing financing arrangements (e.g. foreign worker insurance), where applicable.
Remember: this will apply to the Green/ Fast Lanes which are currently in place, as well as any permitted travel arrangement that may be implemented in the future.
If you, however, didn’t travel via the Green / Fast Lanes system (i.e. for work or businesses in certain countries) but travel to JB for a meal and come back infected, you’ve “travelled in breach of the travel advisories” and will have to pay for your COVID-19 inpatient medical bills in full with no access to subsidies and MediShield Life/ Integrated Shield Plan coverage.
By the way, so far, there are only two countries that have these lanes: China and Malaysia.
Most Events Will Still be Virtual
So you’ve heard about how the authorities are now allowing u to 50 people for wedding receptions, and you’ve cried because you’re as single as a cheeseburger. If you’re still jealous, then here’s some good news for you: according to Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, most events will still remain virtual for now.
So don’t expect wedding receptions to be raised to 100 next week.
Mr Gan added, “This does not mean that we can no longer celebrate these occasions but that we will need to find new ways to do so.”
Just get married over Zoom. Well, is I say one, not Gan say one.
Hungry Ghost Month Updates: Still Can be Conducted…
…but not the same way.
Like what Mr Gan said, “Singaporeans are a resourceful people, and many have found new and creative ways to commemorate our nation’s independence while adhering to the safe management measures.”
It’s unknown if the good brothers and sisters from the other realm would need to serve a 14-day SHN when the gates open on 19 August 2020, but it’s mentioned that Seventh Lunar Month prayers and post-funeral religious rites conducted by religious organisations with a good track record of implementing safe management measures, or by religious workers endorsed by these religious organisations, will be allowed to take place in places of worship and some external venues such as HDB common areas.
What is confirmed is that any Seventh Lunar Month event that has large gatherings (e.g. live auctions, getai performances) is still banned.
The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth will release details about this soon, so stay tuned if you’re from another world looking to visit our world later this month.
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