Maids, employers in Singapore face fear and frustration amid Covid-19 pandemic

Maids, employers in Singapore face fear and frustration amid Covid-19 pandemic
Nurul is among 130 new and returning FDWs who tested positive for the coronavirus between Dec 23 and Jan 9

SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - Six days into serving her stay-home notice after arriving in Singapore on Dec 21 last year, a new maid from Indonesia started feeling unwell.

The single mother, 40, who had left home for the first time to start a new life as a foreign domestic worker (FDW), developed a mild cough and headache while being confined at the Genting Hotel Jurong.

On Jan 3, she was given a nasal swab test, and her worst fears were realised when she tested positive for Covid-19.

"I was so afraid," the Surabaya native, who wanted to be known only as Nurul, told The New Paper over the phone last week from a quarantine facility in Tuas.

"I did not know whether I would be able to start my new job and was also concerned for my health," she said through a translator.

"I felt alone. I was missing my family, especially my two-year-old son whom I had not seen in three months."

To Ms Nurul's relief, her agent reassured her that she could start work after recovering as her employer was willing to employ her.

The employer, who declined to be named, told TNP that she still has concerns whether Nurul would remain infectious after recovering because her elderly mother is sickly.

But it was difficult to get a replacement maid at short notice, so she is prepared to cope by taking precautions such as Nurul wearing a mask when tending to her mother.

The mother of three, who is currently jobless, added: "It has been frustrating. We have not had a maid for about 10 months and I had to turn down a job offer to take care of my children and mother."

Amid the pandemic, such situations and frustrations are not uncommon.

Nurul is among 130 new and returning FDWs who tested positive for the coronavirus between Dec 23 and Jan 9.

Most of the recent new infections here are imported cases.

To gain entry into Singapore, migrant workers from most countries must have a valid negative test result from an accredited or recognised laboratory taken within 72 hours before departure. Recovered patients need not take the pre-departure test but must produce documentation with the date of the first positive test result taken between 22 and 180 days before the date of arrival in Singapore.

Last November, the Ministry of Manpower told TNP while pre-departure tests will not eliminate all imported cases, they should help limit the numbers over the next few weeks.



First published by: Samuel Devaraj
Read more at: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/fear-and-frustration-for-maids-employers-amid-the-pandemic