photo-of-desmond-lee-from-cna

Barely three weeks ago on May 13, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong declared that it is mandatory for all foreign workers to be tested for COVID-19 before they are allowed to start work.

Today (June 6), Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee announced a U-turn policy scrapping the testing requirement:

“After consulting with the Ministry of Health (MOH), the authorities will no longer require S-Pass and work permit holders in the construction sector who do not live in dormitories, work only in offices and do not visit worksites to be regularly tested for Covid-19.”

The Ministry of Health did not explain the decision for the reversal of the mandatory testing regime. At least 5 foreign workers who tested positive for the deadly coronavirus were picked up during mandatory testing. 12 pre-school staffs were also tested positive in a similar screening before starting work at preschools.

Without pre-screening, Singapore is now more likely to see higher infection rate and more work site clusters form as it saw previously.

Minister Desmond Lee also reversed the government’s earlier decision to improve the living conditions of the foreign workers dormitories. The PAP minister now say there is no need for workers to sleep in single-deck beds:

“Some new guidelines for existing factory-converted dormitories (FCDs) and construction temporary quarters (CTQs), such as ensuring that workers sleep in single-deck beds instead of bunk beds, are not compulsory.”

The government has earlier boasted that each foreign worker will be given 6 sq metres of living space, instead of the existing 4.5 sq metres.