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Covid-19: HPB hiring temporary swabbers, monthly pay up to S$3,800

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Health (MOH) confirmed on Friday (May 15) that the Health Promotion Board (HPB) is hiring swabbers and swabbing assistants on short-term contracts to support wider Covid-19 swab testing efforts.

Swab testing for Covid-19 being done at a medical post in Westlite Papan dormitory on April 21, 2020.

Swab testing for Covid-19 being done at a medical post in Westlite Papan dormitory on April 21, 2020.

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Health (MOH) confirmed on Friday (May 15) that the Health Promotion Board (HPB) is hiring swabbers and swabbing assistants on short-term contracts to support wider Covid-19 swab testing efforts.

This could entail swabbing operations at dormitories, MOH said in response to media queries.

The National Trades Union Congress’ Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) had published a job poster on its Facebook page on Tuesday (May 12), calling on Singaporeans and permanent residents to become swab assistants and swabbers.

Swab assistants will earn a monthly salary of S$3,400, while swabbers will get S$3,800.

Healthcare experience is not necessary.

Based on a job poster shared by Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and National Development Sun Xueling on her Facebook page, applicants need to be medically fit and free of chronic illnesses, be able to speak English and Chinese, Malay or Tamil proficiently, and have a minimum N-Level qualification. Fluency in a dialect such as Bengali is also viewed as a “bonus”.

In response to a query by TODAY on why the salaries for both roles are pegged higher than nurses’ pay, MOH said that the average gross monthly salary for entry-level registered nurses ranges from S$3,300 to S$5,200 — including allowances and bonuses — depending on their qualifications.

“They are also eligible for annual salary increments as well as training opportunities to upskill themselves and develop a lifelong career as a nurse clinician, educator or leader in the healthcare sector,” MOH added.

The temporary positions “do not provide any progression pathway unlike full-time healthcare professional roles in the public healthcare system”, MOH said. They will also not be entitled to extra allowances or bonuses, the ministry added.

Applicants will first have to undergo job training and assessments as swab assistants, before becoming swabbers.

Swab assistants’ duties involve helping with preparations of specimen collection, conducting infection control and triaging patients by assessing their symptoms.

Swabbers collect nasal secretion samples. This involves inserting a cotton swab deep into a patient’s nose.

An HPB spokesperson told TODAY: "Individuals can apply for swabber, swab assistant, operations support and site supervisor roles as well on a contract basis. In the first instance, we will be looking to hire about 1,500 individuals to fulfil these roles."

"Upon completion of the training, new hires will be deployed to areas of need immediately," the spokesperson added. "During deployment, they will need to don full PPE (personal protective equipment) and N95 mask. There are also strict site infection control measures and safe distancing measures in place."

Asked how it decided on the salaries, HPB said: "The pay is for a contract position that is for the short term, and does not include any additional allowances or bonuses."

On Tuesday, MOH announced that it is planning to test all 323,000 migrant workers in dormitories in the coming weeks. As of Tuesday, about a tenth of these workers had been tested. 

Migrant workers in dormitories continue to form an overwhelming majority of Covid-19 cases in Singapore, which stood at 26,891 as of Friday. 

At the end of April, it was reported that the SG Healthcare Corps had recruited 3,000 trained healthcare workers, such as former nurses or those in private practice, to deliver care at public hospitals and community care facilities.

Related topics

swab test swab assistants swabbers Covid-19 coronavirus HPB NTUC

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