SINGAPORE: There is no need for main contractors to turn away workers who stayed in the same dormitory as a Bangladeshi coronavirus patient, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Monday (Feb 10).
MOM's comments follow reports that the residents of The Leo dormitory - where the Bangladeshi worker stayed - had been turned away from their worksites due to fears of infection.
The Bangladeshi work pass holder is Singapore's 42nd confirmed coronavirus case and currently isolated at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID).
The 39-year-old had stayed at The Leo dormitory at Kaki Bukit Road before he tested positive for the virus on Feb 8.
BANGLADESHI WORKER STAYED IN HIS ROOM MOST OF THE TIME
Prior to being hospitalised, the Bangladeshi worker had stayed in his dormitory room most of the time and his movements were limited to his room and worksite, said MOM in a press release.
Measures have been taken to make sure all those who were in close contact with him have been quarantined.
In all, the health ministry has issued quarantine orders to 19 people considered close contacts of the worker. This comprises his 10 roommates, eight people who took the same company transport as he did and a project manager at his worksite, said MOM.
"While further contact tracing is ongoing, MOH (Ministry of Health) has assessed that the risk to the general population of residents in the dormitory is low," it added.
RISK OF TRANSMISSION THROUGH CASUAL CONTACT LOW
The ministry said it has taken action to clarify that other residents of the dormitory are unlikely to contract the virus.
Together with the MOH, it met with the Singapore Contractors Association, the main contractors and dormitory operators to clarify that those who had close contact with the infected worker have been quarantined, it said.
It has also checked with the other dormitories and determined their residents can go to work as usual too.
"The risk of transmission through casual contact is low and there is no need to turn away workers," said MOM.
WORKER'S EMPLOYER "ACTED RESPONSIBLY": MOM
The Bangladeshi worker reported the onset of symptoms on Feb 1 and sought treatment at a general practitioner clinic on Feb 3 and then at Changi General Hospital on Feb 5.
He went for a follow-up appointment at Bedok Polyclinic on Feb 7 and was then admitted to the intensive care unit at Changi General Hospital.
Subsequent test results confirmed the novel coronavirus infection on Feb 8, and he was transferred to NCID.
Preliminary checks indicated that the worker's employer had "acted responsibly", said MOM.
When the worker reported feeling unwell, they acted promptly to enable him to seek medical attention, and also kept him away from work while he was on medical leave.
The dormitory operator has also disinfected its premises.
When The Leo dormitory was last inspected by MOM on Sep 27 last year, its hygiene and living conditions were satisfactory, said the ministry.
MOM revisited the dormitory again on Jan 30 and Feb 10, and observed that the cleaning of common areas had been stepped up from once a day to twice daily.
So far, 45 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Singapore.
READ: 2 new coronavirus cases in Singapore, including Certis Cisco employee who served quarantine orders
The latest confirmed cases are a 37-year-old Certis Cisco employee with no recent travel history to China, and a two-year-old girl who was one of the 92 Singaporeans evacuated from Wuhan on Jan 30.
The novel coronavirus epidemic started in the Chinese city of Wuhan but has since spread to more than 20 countries.
It has killed more than 900 people and infected more than 40,000, most of them in mainland China.