Singapore, Aug 6 (PTI) Singapore could see a surge in the number of coronavirus cases after testing of the majority of the 300,000-odd workers from Bangladesh, India and China living in dormitories is complete this week, a senior member of the COVD-19 task force warned on Thursday.
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, Lawrence Wong, co-chair of the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force, said.
He said the country is on track to test all 300,000-odd workers from Bangladesh, India and China, living in dormitories by Friday, except for a final group of workers who are completing their quarantine, Wong, who is also the Education and Second Minister for Finance told a news conference.
“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,” the Channel quoted Wong as saying.
“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,” he said.
Most foreign workers, including Indian nationals, will be able to return to work by the end of this month, he said.
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, Wong said.
Wong also urged the contractors to put in place the required safe management measures to minimise the chances of forming of large clusters.
Workers will still be tested every two weeks after they return to work, said 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,” Wong said.
Meanwhile, all Singaporeans and foreigners who are here as permanent residents (PRs) and long-term pass holders will be able to tap regular healthcare financing for their medical bills should they have symptoms of COVID-19 within 14 days of their return from abroad under permitted travel arrangements with certain countries.
“Long-term pass holders may tap on their prevailing financing arrangements, such as the foreign worker insurance. But any remaining co-payment will continue to be paid by the patient,” said Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong.
This takes effect from August 7, according to a report by the Channel.
Currently, those who travel overseas against the travel advisories are required to pay for their own COVID-19 treatment in full should they have symptoms of the disease within 14 days of their return.
'Short-term pass holders entering Singapore under permitted travel arrangements will remain responsible for their medical bills should they test positive for COVID-19,' the ministry added.
The government will also continue to closely monitor the number of imported cases.
Gan noted that the pandemic in other parts of the world “continues to accelerate”, and some countries that managed to control the initial wave of COVID-19 infections are now facing a resurgence in cases.
“In Asia, there have been worrying uptick in some areas, including Hong Kong, India, Japan, and Vietnam. Many Singaporeans are understandably concerned about imported cases,” said Gan.
“But keeping our borders sealed is not a sustainable strategy, as many countries have also come to realise,” Gan said.
According to the Johns Hopkins University data, the country has 54,555 COVID-19 cases and 27 deaths. PTI GS RS RS