Wuhan virus: Temperature screening, quarantine facilities in place at foreign worker dormitories

Wuhan virus: Temperature screening, quarantine facilities in place at foreign worker dormitories

Collage of foreign worker dormitories
Screengrabs from Google Maps showing Sungei Tengah Lodge (left) and Toh Guan Dormitory.

SINGAPORE: Foreign worker dormitory operators have taken steps to help residents minimise the risk of getting infected by the the Wuhan virus following recommendations from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). 

Since Jan 24, MOM officers have been in regular contact with dormitory operators to brief them on the current situation and the precautionary measures to take, a ministry spokesperson said in response to queries from CNA. 

The operators have been tasked to regularly check and monitor their residents, and perform supervised temperature checks on those who had travelled to China in the past 14 days, the spokesperson said. Dormitory operators also have procedures in place to manage residents who are unwell. 

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A resident who falls ill will be brought to the sick bay situated within the facility and given medical attention.

Dormitories licensed by MOM are required to have sick bays and contingency plans, the spokesperson said. If there is an infectious disease outbreak, they must be equipped to quarantine workers. 

"MOM has also issued an advisory based off the MOH (Ministry of Health) advisory to all dormitories, to be put up prominently so that residents are aware of the preventive steps to take," the spokesperson added. 

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Dormitory operator Centurion Corporation, which manages five dormitories with 28,000 beds in Singapore, said that it activated its pandemic management plan over the Chinese New Year weekend. 

It issued advisories to all employees, put up education posters for its residents and ensured all lodging sites were stocked with personal protection equipment such as surgical masks, thermometers and sanitisers, said a spokesman in response to CNA queries. 

Residents are being screened for their temperatures - security officers will take the temperatures of those who have travelled overseas in the past 14 days using contactless digital infrared hand-held thermometers before they are allowed to enter the accommodation premises, said the spokesperson.

Thermometers will be provided and they will be required to take their temperatures twice a day and report their daily temperature readings for 14 days following their return, the spokesperson added. 

Officials monitor thermal scanners as passengers walk past upon arrival of a flight from Hangzhou,
Officials monitor thermal scanners as passengers walk past upon arrival of a flight at Changi Airport in Singapore on Jan 22, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Yiming Woo)

New and returning residents also have to declare their health and travel history. 

In addition to existing sick bays, each dormitory has set aside at least two apartment units comprising at least 32 beds to serve as isolation and quarantine facilities, the spokesman said. These units have their own kitchen and toilet facilities. 

Those who have returned from China will be put in an isolation room for 14 days separate from the rest of the residents, even if they do not exhibit symptoms, the spokesman said. They are also discouraged from lingering in communal areas.

The spokesperson added that while the group currently houses close to 27,000 residents, only 1,267 - or less than 5 per cent - of its foreign worker residents are from China.

Among the Chinese national residents, 135 are known to have returned home for the Chinese New Year holidays.

A Keppel spokesperson said that Keppel Housing has adopted measures that are in line with the advisory issued by MOM for dormitory operators, which includes closely monitoring the health of residents who have been in China in the last 14 days.

According to the MOM website, there are 45 licensed foreign worker dormitories in Singapore. 

On Jan 26, the Building and Construction Authority released an advisory for contractors and other employers in the built environment sector on how to safeguard their employees’ health. 

The number of cases of those with the coronavirus in Singapore rose to 10 on Wednesday evening. So far, all cases are Chinese nationals from Wuhan.

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Source: CNA/rp

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