30,000 work pass holders from China yet to return to Singapore
Manpower Minister Josephine Teo urges employers not to evict workers placed on leave of absence
About 30,000 work pass holders who are Chinese nationals and left Singapore for the Chinese New Year break have yet to return, said Manpower Minister Josephine Teo yesterday.
These workers will have to take a mandatory 14-day leave of absence (LOA) when they return here.
They may go back to their work or school premises only after 14 days, provided they are well.
The 30,000 figure is less than 1 per cent of Singapore's total workforce, but it excludes Singaporeans who have travelled to China, Mrs Teo added.
Returning Singaporeans will also have to undertake the mandatory LOA.
Speaking to the media alongside Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing at Oasia Hotel Downtown, where they inspected precautionary measures after a hotel guest was found to have the Wuhan coronavirus, Mrs Teo urged Singaporeans not to ostracise those on LOA.
She said landlords, dormitory operators or even co-tenants should also not evict them.
She said: "For the workers put on LOA, they are not unwell. The requirement is just for them to stay home... and to minimise social contact.
"We must be mindful of that as we take these precautions, we must be supportive of the people who are affected."
On Saturday, the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Trade and Industry said the coronavirus outbreak will affect the tourism sector most intensely.
Mrs Teo said staff in the tourism sector will be required to take on extra workload during this difficult period.
She said: "The bigger impact is on the workers who are not affected by the LOA but are continuing to work.
"Extra workload also comes from upholding higher standards of hygiene that the hotel and hospitality operators are introducing to instil and strengthen customer confidence."
Mrs Teo, who spoke to hotel staff during the visit, thanked them for their commitment to take on extra duties such as increasing the frequency of cleaning and disinfection around the hotel premises.
Although the LOA is not as strict as a quarantine order, failure to adhere could result in the Government taking drastic actions, she said.
"We have communicated with employers and workers that they have a part to play in this. They have to help us exercise this responsibility," said Mrs Teo.
Communications and Information Minister S. Iswaran said yesterday that Singapore is focused on minimising the risk of community spread of the novel coronavirus.
Mr Iswaran, who was helping to give out Chinese New Year red packets to residents of the West Coast area, said: "We are counting on Singaporeans to cooperate with us, stay calm, get their information from the right sources and to carry on with life as per normal."