COVID-19: Most foreign workers to be able to return to work by end-August, says Lawrence Wong

COVID-19: Most foreign workers to be able to return to work by end-August, says Lawrence Wong

Westlite Mandai 08
Workers at Westlite Mandai Dormitory have their passes scanned for meal collection on May 6, 2020. (Photo: Jeremy Long)

SINGAPORE: Most foreign workers will be able to return to work by the end of this month, said Mr Lawrence Wong, co-chair of the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force on Thursday (Aug 6).

With workers who have either been cleared or recovered from COVID-19 back on the job, construction activity will be able to resume by the end of the month as well, said Mr Wong, urging contractors to put in place the required safe management measures right now.

Singapore is on track to test all 300,000-odd workers living in dormitories by Friday, except for a final group of workers who are completing their quarantine, said Mr Wong at a news conference.

In the upcoming two weeks, Singapore can expect to see volatile case numbers as the workers are tested at the end of their isolation period, he added.

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READ: Vast majority of foreign workers to be cleared of COVID-19 by early August: Lawrence Wong

“We don't know how many will be testing positive or negative. It may be that very high numbers test negative and then we will have very few case counts, but it may also be that quite a large number test positive,” Mr Wong said.

“But we expect that to continue only for the next two weeks because we are dealing with the final batch of workers who are in isolation. Thereafter, we do expect the number of cases to taper down significantly, because we will have cleared all the workers by then.”

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Workers will still be tested every two weeks after they return to work, said Mr Wong, warning that COVID-19 cases among the community could appear once more. 

“Just because we have COVID-cleared dormitories doesn't mean that we should assume these are permanently COVID-safe dormitories because we all know that the virus can flare up again.”

On top of all the safe management practices that are in place, the Government will keep working with employers to make sure that construction activities are carried out in a “safer manner” to minimise the chances of large clusters forming. 

The construction industry - which faces a "completely different environment” with additional safety protocols and regular testing of workers - will have to restructure and transform itself and “be more productive”, said Mr Wong.

“I’m sure the (public) agencies are all very mindful that this is a very difficult period for contractors, for developers, and they will continue to engage them closely to see what we can do to work with the private sector and overcome this particular hump,” he said.

Watch the full press conference and subsequent Q&A session with journalists: 

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Source: CNA/rp

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