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Maids, confinement nannies to take COVID-19 serology test on arrival in Singapore

Maids, confinement nannies to take COVID-19 serology test on arrival in Singapore

Foreign domestic workers at Asian Food Mall in Lucky Plaza on Jun 21, 2020. (File photo: TODAY/Latasha Seow)

SINGAPORE: Foreign domestic workers and confinement nannies arriving in Singapore from this Friday (Feb 5) will have to take a serology test for COVID-19, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Wednesday.

This is in addition to the on-arrival polymerase chain reaction (PCR) swab test requirement already in place since Jan 24.

The serology test is a blood test which can detect if a person has recovered from a COVID-19 infection. This indicates that they have antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The test will be mandatory for maids and nannies with recent travel history to higher-risk countries and regions, MOM said, citing the multi-ministry task force for COVID-19. 

Travellers from higher-risk countries and regions are required to serve a 14-day stay-home notice at dedicated facilities. These countries include the Philippines, Indonesia and Myanmar – countries where the majority of maids in Singapore are from – and Malaysia, where most confinement nannies are from.

READ: Extra COVID-19 testing for all newly arrived foreign workers in construction, marine, process sectors

Those who test positive can therefore be released from their stay-home notice period, said MOM.

"Employers of these recovered workers will see lower SHN (stay-home notice) costs,” the ministry added.

Currently, maids and confinement nannies arriving in Singapore from higher-risk countries and regions have to apply to MOM for approval. 

They will also have to take a COVID-19 PCR test before departure, another on arrival in Singapore, and one more during their 14-day stay-home notice.

READ: Fewer Malaysian confinement nannies in Singapore due to COVID-19, parents face higher costs in hiring

Commentary: It should not be this hard to hire a foreign domestic worker

Demand in Singapore for new foreign domestic workers is going strong despite the extra costs involved in bringing them in amid the pandemic, according to employment agencies.

MOM on Wednesday also announced the extension of the post-stay-home notice seven-day testing programme to newly arrived work permit and S Pass workers in the construction, marine and process sectors from higher-risk countries and regions.

Previously, only those headed to dormitories would be subject to the additional tests.

The ministry said these additional measures are necessary to “to further reduce the risk of transmission from newly arrived migrant workers into the workplace”.

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Editor's note: An earlier version of this story said maids and confinement nannies have to take additional swab tests in the seven days after their stay-home notice. MOM has clarified that maids and confinement nannies do not have to take these additional tests. ​​​​​​​

Source: CNA/vc(cy)

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