Had it not been for the local dormitory disaster, Singapore’s COVID-19 situation would have largely been a squeaky clean one.
But then again, there’s no real point crying over spilt milk at this point.
What we can do instead is to learn from our previous mistakes and look forward to the future anew.
Or at least, that’s what the new one-stop onboarding pilot appears to suggest anyway.
One-Stop Onboarding Pilot Will Allow Newly-Arrived Migrant Workers to Spend Only 4 Days In Hotels Under SHN
According to TODAYonline, an all-new one-stop migrant worker onboarding programme, which aims to “streamline the quarantine process” of migrant workers without compromising safety, is set to be introduced from 15 March.
This was unveiled by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) yesterday (3 March). The programme will supposedly increase convenience for employers, and the workers “will be able to start their employment in Singapore on the right footing”.
In addition, the hotel quarantine period for these migrant workers will be reduced.
At present, migrant workers serve their 14-day stay-home notice (SHN) at hotels upon arrival in Singapore, before they transition to a specific facility for another week of SHN.
With the new onboarding programme, however, they will only need to serve their SHN for four days while they await the results of their serology and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) Covid-19 tests.
Prior to their arrival in Singapore, they would’ve done a pre-departure PCR test as well.
Once the four days are up, the migrant workers will head on to the onboarding centers to fulfill the remainder of their quarantine period. These centres are within five quick-build dormitories in Punggol, Eunos, Choa Chu Kang and Tengah.
Apart from an enhanced medical exam, they will also go through an expanded settling-in programme with the Migrant Workers’ Centre (MWC), a non-governmental organisation (NGO).
The settling-in programme aims to instill “appropriate health-seeking behaviour, good hygiene habits, and good dormitory living and worksite practices” in the workers.
“The enhanced medical examination includes detailed record-taking of medical history as well as screening for chronic diseases for older workers or those with health risk factors,” said MOM.
“This will enable early identification of health risks and aid effective downstream patient care.”
According to TODAYonline, such changes could result in potential cost benefits for employers. At the current moment, they are believed to be paying around S$2,000 per worker for their accommodation at a designated SHN facility, and swab tests that can cost as much as $200 per person.
“The (onboarding centre) brings together various entry processes as one efficient, integrated and seamless end-to-end process,” said the MOM.
“As the migrant worker onboarding centre is a pilot, we will continually tweak our measures and processes to safeguard public health, and benefit employers and workers.”
Meanwhile, other changes are also on the way, such as the reviewing of the Foreign Employees Dormitories Act to encompass all dormitories and a “holistic review” of the enhanced standards required for the next pandemic situation.
Apparently, should these higher standards be implemented, it could mean highest costs for employers and dormitory operators.
“Our experience containing COVID-19 in the dorms highlighted the need to strengthen our regulatory levers to enable us to raise and enforce housing standards quickly across various dormitory types and sizes, and introduce new housing standards to make dormitory living more resilient to public health risks.”
Foreign workers have had it tough all these years, and we may not even be fully aware of their plight just yet.
These incidents, along with the death of three workers in the recent Tuas fire, have drawn sympathy from many.
And despite certain changes, living conditions for these workers still remain somewhat subpar.
Thankfully, further changes seem set to be made, and though it may cost the affiliated employers more…
These migrant workers may finally, finally be able to have an improved lifestyle here – a notion that their predecessors have probably craved for a really long while.
Feature Image: AhXiong / Shutterstock.com