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MOM should ease entry curbs on vaccinated maids

The Government has announced that it will allow vaccinated foreign maids into Singapore from Nov 1, but this could take three to six months as entry approvals will be limited for public health reasons.

MOM should ease entry curbs on vaccinated maids

Entry approvals for maids into Singapore have been curtailed since May, causing difficulties to households that need domestic help, says one TODAY reader.

Victor Ng Beng Li

The Government has announced that it will allow vaccinated foreign maids into Singapore from Nov 1, but this could take three to six months as entry approvals will be limited for public health reasons.

Priority will be given to families with caregiving needs and those who need maids urgently are urged to consider a commercial pilot programme run by the Association of Employment Agencies (Singapore).

The Government did not indicate the exact number of maids which will be allowed in from Nov 1.

Entry approvals for maids into Singapore have been curtailed since May, causing difficulties to households that need domestic help.

According to Manpower Minister Tan See Leng, Singapore needs to minimise the risk of Covid-19 importation so the pace of maid arrivals will depend on the Covid-19 situation at source and locally.

This approach seems incongruent with the Government’s message that given Singapore’s high vaccination rate, we should not get anxious focusing too much on headline infection numbers.

This is especially so since Covid-19 is a mild disease for most people.

The key consideration in this endemic phase is not to overwhelm our healthcare system with too many Covid-19 patients.

So the crucial question is whether bringing in more foreign maids will pose a threat to our healthcare system. The answer is no.

First, maids entering Singapore are placed under strict quarantine in a dedicated facility so there is little chance of the virus spreading to the community.

Secondly, most of them are young so even if they have Covid-19, they are unlikely to need hospital or intensive care.

Thirdly, in recent weeks only about 0.4 per cent of all new Covid-19 cases in Singapore were imported.

We are looking at an average of around only 10 daily imported cases versus 2,500 local cases.

In other words the spread of the virus is now way faster and more rampant within the community than from imported sources.

The curb on maid also does not gel with the expansion of vaccinated travel lanes to more countries, with 3,000 travellers allowed daily into Singapore.

The scarcity of new maids entering Singapore has led to other problems, one of which is salary distortion.

New maids from Indonesia for example are paid around S$600 per month while transfer maids get as much as S$1,000.

This incentivises existing maids to ask for a change of employer so they can get a higher salary, which in turn leads to friction with their current employers.

Another problem is that maids who have finished their contracts choose not to go back for home leave because they are fearful that re-entry approval into Singapore will not be granted.

This affects their mental wellbeing as they are not able to meet their families for a prolonged period of time.

MOM should lift curbs on entry approvals for vaccinated maids or at the minimum, make clear how many more will be allowed in each month.

Have views on this issue or a news topic you care about? Send your letter to voices [at] mediacorp.com.sg with your full name, address and phone number.

Related topics

foreign domestic worker maid Covid-19 vaccination manpower

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