Despite the majority of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Singapore are linked to migrant workers in their dormitories, only 17 foreign domestic workers (FDWs) had been reported to test positive for the coronavirus.
According to the Straits Times, these FDWs did not contract COVID-19 from other migrant workers. Instead, the coronavirus was transmitted from their employers.
Considering the great number of migrant workers who live in dormitories contracted COVID-19, there had been speculations that maids had come in contact with the infected migrant workers during their rest days.
In fact, it was claimed via a circulating WhatsApp message that FDWs had met with infected workers and later carried the virus back to their employers.
In regards to this issue, Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam clarified that FDWs are not allowed to step outside at the moment, adding that the rate of infection among FDWs is “very low”.
He also said that so far, the evidence they have could only tell that the FDWs contracted the coronavirus from their employers and not from outside.
“First of all, now (FDWs) can’t go out, and second, when you drill down on the data, the rate of infection among foreign domestic workers is very low. The evidence we have so far is that they get the infection from their employers, not from outside,” stated Mr Shanmugam.
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) announced on 11 April that all maids must stay at home on their rest days, adding that they should only go out for essential errands or to purchase meals.
The general manager of employment agency Maid Avenue, William Lau, said that he was not surprised by the low rate of infection among maids.
“Even before the circuit breaker started, many FDWs were already staying at home and minimising contact with outsiders. Adding to that, MOM’s recent announcement sent a very strong message to FDWs – it is no longer just an instruction from their employers,” noted Mr Lau.
A spokesman for the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home) commented that the WhatsApp message is unfair towards the migrant worker community as there is no proof to substantiate such a claim.
“Perpetuating such messages targets the migrant worker community unfairly as it is speculative,” said the spokesman.
The spokesman also urged employers to not be excessively worried about their maids being infected with COVID-19 as all parties are now subjected to the same circuit breaker measures.