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A More Targeted Approach For Dormitory Quarantine

  1. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Building and Construction Authority (BCA) and Economic Development Board (EDB) have implemented several initiatives to facilitate the return of our migrant workers to work in a safe manner. This includes Safe Living and Safe Working measures to ensure that workers are kept free from infection at their residence and workplace. At the dormitories, MOM has put in place a multi-layered strategy to detect any new COVID-19 cases and to contain infections quickly and decisively.

  2. Since all dormitories were declared cleared of COVID-19 on 11 August, 232 new cases were detected through Rostered Routine Testing (RRT). Other workers living in the affected dormitory blocks were quickly ringfenced, tested and isolated to prevent further spread. This strategy has been successful in curbing further outbreaks. For example, at Tampines Dormitory, new infections were discovered on 23 August and 7 September through RRT. On both occasions, MOM intervened and isolated the workers early, and this had prevented further transmission.
  3. Initially, when new COVID-19 cases were detected, the following workers living in the same block would be quarantined: 

    (a) those who were not previously infected, or 
    (b) those who have recovered, and 120 days have passed since their infection. 

  4. MOM and MOH have reviewed the results for more than 31 Purpose-Built Dormitories, 20 decant sites and 107 Factory-Converted Dormitories and Construction Temporary Quarters, and the outcomes following the imposition of quarantine. We have also taken into account that many dormitories have since implemented tighter Safe Living measures to limit intermixing between residents.  
  5. Following the review, the Assurance, Care & Engagement Group (ACE Group) will adopt a more targeted and differentiated quarantine approach. This will minimise work disruption and be more sustainable. Under the new approach:

    • In dormitories that have no intermixing between workers, where workers observe Safe Living Measures and where segregation measures that have been put in place by dormitory operators, workers may be quarantined by levels or sections instead of the entire blocks.

    • Those who have recovered and are within 150 days from their infection will not be quarantined. This is in view of the latest medical evidence which showed that these workers continue to have antibodies to guard against re-infection. 
     
  6. For example, at Westlite Woodlands, after detecting a new infection through RRT, we quarantined the close contacts living in the same block. Under the previous approach, we would have quarantined all 318 workers in the block. With the new differentiated and targeted approach, only 68 workers were quarantined as proper Safe Living Measures were in place to ensure proper segregation, such that the remaining six levels were not affected. 
  7. The ACE Group will continue to refine its quarantine strategy, as advised by the Ministry of Health and based on the latest knowledge, on how transmission spread occurs in dormitory clusters, the specific risks in individual dormitories, and the susceptibility of recovered workers to reinfection.
  8. In order to benefit most from the differentiated quarantine approach, dormitory operators, workers and employers must do their part:
    (a) Dormitory operators must sustain the Safe Living measures. 
    (b) Workers must continue to comply with Safe Living measures and remain within their residential zone. 
    (c) Employers should ensure that their workers adhere to Safe Living measures in their dormitories and consistently undergo RRT.
  9. Through our collective efforts, our migrant workers will remain safe and healthy, and our businesses can minimise disruption to their operations.