More maids being allowed into S’pore as restrictions ease
Compulsory pre-departure testing should help limit the number of imported Covid cases, says MOM
After a period of restriction, more foreign domestic workers (FDWs) are being allowed into Singapore, given the improving Covid-19 situation.
A Ministry of Manpower (MOM) spokesman said on Tuesday: "For a period of time, inflows of work pass holders were restricted to control imported Covid-19 cases and risk straining our healthcare facilities.
"As the situation in Singapore has improved, MOM is now allowing more FDWs to enter in controlled numbers."
Many families had informed MOM that they needed replacements for their maids who had returned or are returning home.
"We are allowing limited numbers in to meet these needs while ensuring they serve the stay-home notice (SHN) period and are tested and medically cleared," the spokesman told The New Paper.
Ms K. Jayaprema, president of the Association of Employment Agencies, told TNP that significantly more work permit applications are being approved this month than previously.
During the circuit breaker, MOM approved only 630 of 4,100 applications and appeals.
Ms Jayaprema said the relaxation of restrictions by MOM has enabled entry applications to be approved in a week instead of the previous four weeks.
Entry approval applications were not required pre-Covid.
Despite a potential influx of FDWs, the number of imported infections should be limited in the next few weeks as pre-departure testing - compulsory since Oct 20 for FDWs coming from Indonesia and the Philippines - has been extended to those from other higher-risk countries such as Myanmar, the MOM spokesman added.
Last Wednesday, the Ministry of Health reported that 10 FDWs from Myanmar and Indonesia had tested positive for Covid-19 while serving the SHN in dedicated facilities.
On Nov 4, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo told Parliament that 109 FDWs had tested positive while serving the SHN from the start of the outbreak till Oct 28.
Centre for Domestic Employees' (CDE) executive director Shamsul Kamar said testing positive in a foreign country can be deeply stressful for the FDWs.
He said: "CDE is concerned about their mental health because they are far away from home and undergoing quite a daunting experience."
Ms Jayaprema said some recovered FDWs were rejected by the employers as they feared contracting the disease.
The MOM spokesman said FDWs are deployed to families only after testing negative and are medically discharged, and they "do not pose a health risk to the community or the families they are deployed to".
Singapore Accredited Employment Agencies Association president Brian Tan said supply side issues such as travel restrictions imposed by the source countries could also factor into the availability of FDWs.
Researcher Lim Fang Ning, 25, said her family has found it "inconvenient" after more than five months of not being able to hire a maid.
A Filipina who agreed to join their household later pulled out because she feared contracting Covid-19 while in Manila to take the pre-departure test.
Miss Lim said: "A helper who can cook and do household chores would be a great relief as my mother and I work late, and my father has health issues."