Easier for healthcare workers now to get ride home
Healthcare workers looking for a ride home after a long shift are now finding one more easily than during the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, when they were widely shunned.
GrabCare, a service started in February by ride-hailing firm Grab to address a reluctance among drivers to pick up healthcare workers for fear of infection, has grown significantly.
The number of drivers signing up for the dedicated service has shot up from 2,000 when it was launched in early February to 10,000 this month - or an estimated 50 per cent of Grab's driver pool.
From March 2 to March 29, Grab offered these drivers a 100 per cent rebate on the commission it charges for each ride. Since March 30, the rebate has been reduced to 25 per cent.
While Grab would not reveal the number of rides taken via GrabCare, The Straits Times understands that demand for the service is now 10 times what it was in February, with at least nine in 10 who booked a ride getting one.
Observers said this could be partly because overall demand has plunged with the stay-home measures in place.
A Grab spokesman said GrabCare now covers 14 hospitals, after starting with just the National Centre for Infectious Diseases.
"We are working to roll it out to more hospitals, and will also start the second phase of the service soon, which is to pick up healthcare workers from home," he said.
Alexandra Hospital, where 35 per cent of staff have signed up for GrabCare, said the service is especially helpful for those who work late shifts.
Ms Candy Austria Quiambao, 38, who works a permanent 8pm to 8am shift as a medical laboratory technologist at the hospital, said: "I am just so beat at the end of my shift, I want to get home quickly to catch some sleep before reporting to work again in the same evening."
Ms Quiambao said her workload has increased since the outbreak began. She tests both suspected and confirmed Covid-19 cases, on top of the routine cases of non-Covid-19 patients.
As of Wednesday, Alexandra Hospital has cared for 99 confirmed Covid-19 patients, and done 1,300 swabs to test for the virus.
Ms Jaylyn Ong, 25, a patient service associate at the hospital who uses a walking aid because of a childhood injury, also relies on private-hire cars when she is tired.
Some 40,000 public healthcare personnel are still commuting to work, and others have also extended assistance to them.
The Community Foundation of Singapore has distributed 50,000 taxi vouchers worth $250,000 to 11 hospitals and 21 polyclinics.
Taxi operator ComfortDelGro is offering promotion codes, with three hospitals, one community hospital and six polyclinics in the west receiving $10,000 worth of such codes.
Ride-hailing firm Gojek is also offering some $80,000 worth of similar promo codes. Promo codes essentially translate to discounted fares.