Singapore's Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has reinforced it will provide support to businesses and self-employed persons who are affected by the leave of absence (LOA) requirements due to the coronavirus known as COVID-19.

Under the Leave of Absence Support Programme (LOASP), eligible employers can apply for S$100 daily per affected worker for the required duration of paid LOA granted to the employee.

Affected workers, in this case, includes Singapore citizens (SC), permanent residents (PR), and work pass holders who travelled to mainland China on or before 31 January 2020, and who were placed on LOA upon their return to Singapore on or after 31 January 2020.

Such eligible employers will also qualify for levy waiver for affected foreign workers for the LOA period.

The following are the criteria employers must meet to claim the LOASP:

  • Granted additional paid leave to the affected worker for the entire duration of LOA period, without requiring the worker to use his/her original paid leave entitlements provided under the terms of employment, or treating the duration of LOA as hospitalisation leave.
  • Must have complied fully with LOA requirements.
  • Must have obtained MOM’s prior approval for workers on Work Pass to enter Singapore after 2359 hours on 8 February 2020.
  • Unable to have work performed remotely
  • Employee must be in employment as at 31 January and for fill duration of LOA.

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Support has also been announced for freelancers, i.e. self-employed SCs and PRs who had travelled to mainland China on or before 31 January 2020, and placed themselves on LOA upon their return to Singapore on or after 31 January 2020 can also apply for the daily support of S$100.

However, MOM has noted that employers and self-employed persons should not apply for support if telecommuting arrangements are available for work to be performed remotely by affected persons.

Employers and self-employed persons who wish to apply for support under LOASP should submit their applications here. Applications should only be submitted after the affected person has completed serving his/her LOA, but no later than 90 days from the last day of the LOA.

Possible additional measures involve social distancing to reduce spread of the virus 

In the meantime, Minister for National Development, Lawrence Wong, has provided an update on the outbreak as of 12 February, at a press conference held at the National Press Centre.

Acknowledging that the nation is seeing more cases that do not have any links to China, he said: "Each time we see such a case, we are doing our best to do contact tracing, to ring-fence and contain the spread of the virus, and you see some of the work that the team has done in order to identify and link up these clusters."

He added: "But because we are also stepping up our surveillance and doing more testing of cases, we can very well expect to see more cases coming up in future. In the coming days and weeks, we can expect that to happen. We do not know how successful we will be in all of these containment measures that we have put in place.

"We will do our very best, but if there is a need, then we may very well have to step up and do more – additional measures that involve social distancing in order to try and reduce the chance of the virus spreading further."

As of 12 Feb 2020, 12pm, Singapore has 50 confirmed cases, of which 15 have fully recovered from the infection and have been discharged from hospital. Of the 35 cases who are still in hospital, most are stable or improving; however, eight are in critical condition in the intensive care unit.

Additionally, National Environment Agency (NEA) a set of interim guidelines for disinfecting premises with transient exposure to confirmed cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19), i.e. applicable only to public spaces where the confirmed case has been present only for a short period of time.

1. Before you start cleaning, put on a pair of gloves. Avoid touching your face, mouth, nose and eyes during clean-up. There is no need to wear a mask if you are well.

2. Prepare the disinfectant or bleach solution (dilute 1 part bleach in 49 parts water, 1000 ppm or according to the manufacturer’s recommendations).

3. Keep the windows open for ventilation.

4. Mop the floor with the prepared disinfectant or bleach solution, starting from one end of the premises to another.

5. Soak cloths with the prepared disinfectant or bleach solution and use them to wipe all frequently touched areas (e.g. lift buttons, handles, doorknobs, armrests, seatbacks, tables, air/light controls, keyboards, switches, blinds, windows, walls, etc).

6. Avoid using a spray pack to apply disinfectant on potentially highly contaminated areas (such as toilet bowl or surrounding surfaces) as it may create splashes which can further spread the virus.

7. Clean toilets with a separate set of cleaning equipment (disposable cleaning cloths, mops, etc) using disinfectant or bleach solution.

  • Clean all accessible surfaces (sinks, taps, soap dispensers, toilet roll dispensers, walls, cubicle doors, cubicle locks, handles, flush buttons, etc).
  • Clean urinals and toilet bowls with a brush and use a separate cloth for seat covers. Brush and cloths used for these should not be used for other surfaces.
  • After disinfection, clean the floor with disinfectant from the exit inwards.

8. Remove cushion covers and other fabrics for washing. Use a washing machine and detergent to wash.

9. Repeat cleaning the floor with the prepared disinfectant or bleach solution, starting from one end of the premises to another. Avoid going from an area that has not been cleaned to an area that has been cleaned, to avoid dirtying the cleaned area.

10. Throw away all cloths and rags used, as well as other waste from the clean-up, into double-lined plastic/trash bags.

11. Remove gloves, wash your hands with soap and water.

12. Throw gloves into double-lined plastic/trash bags.

13. All waste generated from the clean-up (gloves, cloths, etc.) should be segregated from other waste (e.g. food waste), and disposed of as regular waste as soon as possible.

14. Shower or wash up and change your clothes immediately after the clean-up.

15. Air and ventilate the premises.