Filipinos in Singapore cope with work adjustments amid coronavirus crisis

Marje Pelayo   •   February 20, 2020   •   313

SINGAPORE – Employers in the city-state are making arrangements with their workers to reduce the risk of community transmission of the deadly coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Filipino domestic helper Analyn Baculinao said her employer has asked her to just stay at home even on her rest day so as not to contract the disease.

Household workers in Singapore are known for rest-day gatherings especially during Sundays.

Umpisa po noong naglabas ng advisory ang Ministry of Manpower tungkol sa domestic helper naging aware din po ang amo ko, kinausap niya ako na kung pwede huwag muna akong lumabas (Since the Ministry of Manpower issued an advisory regarding domestic helpers, my employer became aware of the situation and asked me if I could just stay at home),” Analyn told UNTV News.

“Huwag muna ako mag take ng day off kasi daw pag nag day off ako mag te-take ako ng bus, mag-e-mrt. Kaya super aware ang amo ko kaya sabi niya hanggang hindi okay hindi ka muna lalabas (She appealed that I should not take a day off for now because if I do, I would ride a bus, the MRT. My employer is aware (of the risk) that’s why she has asked me to stay indoors while the situation is not okay),” she added.

Jorge Araza, meanwhile, has no other choice but to extend his working hours as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Currently, he has to work 14 hours straight in a day because most of his Chinese office mates are under quarantine after coming from a vacation in mainland China.

“Lahat ng worker na galing sa China, quarantine ng 14 days bago sila pumasok sa site. Tapos ang mga staff naman, ang meeting namin sa mga consultant, online na ginaganap para maiwasan ang virus (All workers who returned from China are under 14-days quarantine that’s before they’ll be allowed to come to the site for work. Then, staff meetings with consultants are now being done online to prevent the spread of the virus),” Jorge, a mechanical and electrical supervisor, explained.

“Ang epekto sa amin, kulang po kami ng manpower kaya karamihan nag-e-extend po ang staff na nagta-trabaho. Tapos may pasok na po kami ng Sabado due to lack of manpower (The effect on us is lack of manpower so most of us in the office extend for additional hours. We are also required now to come to the office on Saturdays due to lack of manpower),” he added.

As of Wednesday (February 19), the Ministry of Health (MOH) reported three new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number infected to 84.

This makes Singapore the third country with the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection after China and Japan.

Of the 84, a total of 50 are still in hospital while the other 34 already recovered and discharged.

Most of those in the hospitals are already in stable condition with only four remain critical.

The World Health Organization (WHO) lauded Singapore’s efforts in handling cases of COVID-19.

“We are very impressed with the efforts they are making to find every case, follow up with contacts and stop transmission,” said World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“Singapore is leaving no stone unturned, testing every case of influenza-like illness and pneumonia, and so far they have not found evidence of community transmission,” he added.

Singapore’s campaign against the spread of coronavirus came strong as its leaders, led by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, lead the efforts themselves.

On February 8, Prime Minister Lee posted a video on his Facebook in three languages encouraging Singaporeans to stay united and resolute, assuring them that the country is much prepared now than it was 17 years ago during the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars).

Among the measures the Singapore government has taken into place is the intensified contact tracing and monitoring; the implementation of the new ‘Stay-Home Notice’ for 14 days for Singapore residents and long-term pass holders returning from mainland China (outside of Hubei). MNP (with inputs from Annie Mancilla)

PH eyeing to launch SG-based contact tracing app amid COVID- 19 worries

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 6, 2020

The Philippines is eyeing to launch a Singapore-based contact tracing app to help the government in containing the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said they are coordinating with the Department of Health (DOH) and other government agencies to look into Singapore-based app ‘TraceTogether’.

DICT Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan wrote a letter to Singaporean Ambassador Gerard Ho Wei Hong requesting more details about the app and that the ICT-enabled tools could assist in addressing the COVID-19 situation in the Philippines.

“In response, Ambassador Ho Wei Hong said Singapore is willing to provide technical assistance to DICT regarding the matter,” the DICT said.

According to the DICT, TraceTogether is a community-driven contact tracing app which works by exchanging short-distance Bluetooth signals between phones to detect other app users who are within about two to five-meter proximity. The app was launched last March 20.

“If one app user tested positive for Covid-19, authorities will be able to identify other app users who were in close contact with the patient,” the DICT said. AAC

Singapore closing workplaces, schools as coronavirus cases jump

UNTV News   •   April 3, 2020

Singapore will close schools and most workplaces, except for essential services like supermarkets and banks, for a month, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Friday (April 3), as part of stricter measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

While the city has won international praise for its efforts to stem the spread of the virus, its infections have been rising sharply in recent weeks, to 1,114 on Friday, and five people have died.

During a televised address, Lee urged everyone to stay at home as much as possible and to avoid socialising with others beyond their own household. He said the country had enough food supplies to last through this period and beyond.

The new measures will be in place from April 7 until May 4, while schools will move to full home-based learning from April 8. The measures could be extended beyond a month if the situation did not improve, authorities said.

The moves will help reduce the risk of a big outbreak occurring, and it should also help to gradually bring numbers down, Lee said, which will then allow the authorities to relax some of the measures. Singapore has adopted some social distancing measures to curb the spread of the virus, but had let schools, offices and restaurants remain open.

The city-state’s finance minister last month unveiled more than $30 billion in new measures to help businesses and households. (Reuters)

(Production: Joseph Campbell, Pedja Stanisic)

China advises foreign diplomats to stop coming to Beijing

UNTV News   •   April 3, 2020

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying

China’s foreign ministry is advising foreign diplomats to stop coming to Beijing, after the country temporarily banned most foreigners from entering to prevent a resurgence of a coronavirus epidemic, a spokeswoman said on Friday (April 3).

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters during a daily briefing that the ministry was aware of confirmed coronavirus cases among foreign diplomats in China.

Mainland China reported 31 new confirmed coronavirus cases, 29 of which were imported from overseas, the country’s National Health Commission said on Friday.

The total number of infections now stands at 81,620 and 3,322 deaths have been reported from mainland China to date. (Reuters)

(Production: Shubing Wang, Irene Wang)

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