Some residents currently staying in campus housing in the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University have been sent notices demanding they clear out of their living quarters in less than 24 hours.
Their eviction is to convert their residences into Wuhan virus quarantine facilities as mandated by the universities' respective administrations.
The notices for eviction were sent out to residents on Sunday, Jan. 26, which was the second day of the Chinese New Year.
The time stamp on the email to NTU residents suggested it was sent just after 6.30pm, with the demand that residents move out by 3pm the next day.
The email to NUS students was sent out shortly after 1.30pm, with the demand they move out by 11am the next day.
Various screen shots of the email notices have been forwarded to Mothership.sg over the course of Sunday.
The notices were short and devoid of specific details, such as the sort of substitute accommodation provided for those who were getting booted out on short notice.
The notices sought the residents' understanding and cooperation, and gave less than one-day buffer to clear out.
Attempts to clarify the contents with the recipients of the email notices were met with equal amounts of confusion and annoyance.
Based on the residents' own understanding, the demand to move on such short notice is difficult and unfair.
This is compounded by current circumstances, where many of the residents might not even be in Singapore during this Chinese New Year long weekend.
Based on what was written in the notices, those residents affected are mostly graduate students in the two universities, as well as some research staff, one of the NTU graduate students affected let on.
The contents of the NUS email suggested that those affected are mainly international students.
A campus security phone number that was provided at the end of the email sent to NTU residents also proved unhelpful.
According to one resident, calls made to the number were met by campus security personnel who were just as "unaware" about the sudden new arrangements mandated.
Reactions on social media showed that those affected were stunned by the decision to turn their residences into quarantine facilities overnight.
Another gripe surfaced in one Twitter thread said the possibility of their residences being turned into quarantine facilities was not even floated at the very start when the residents took up the accommodation.
What notices said
Over at NUS, a notice that was sent out to those getting the boot said Residence 2, Prince George's Park Residences has been designated as a Government Quarantine Facilities (GQF) for isolating people with or suspected to have the novel coronavirus.
The residents being evicted currently reside in Block 5, 6, 7 and 8.
Those people who are required to be quarantined have been referred to as Persons under Quarantine Order (PUQs).
The NUS notice also mentioned that all international students staying in Residence 2 are required to vacate their rooms.
They are made to check out by 11am on Jan. 27, 2020.
This gives the students less than a one-day lead time to vacate their premises.
The email also said: "Alternative room arrangements will be made during this period to facilitate your move to your new accommodation. We seek your understanding to note that alternative arrangements may not be exactly similar to R2 in terms of provision e.g. non-Air Con."
Over at NTU, it appears that all residents of Graduate Hall 1 were requested to vacate.
The nature of the eviction is similar to NUS.
The NTU residents were asked to vacate by 3pm on Monday, Jan. 27, 2020.
Moreover, those who are not contactable will have their personal items moved to their allocated rooms by the university.
A paragraph in the email read:
The University will assist residents who are not contactable by 1pm on Monday, 27 January 2020 to have all their personal items moved to their allocated rooms.
The NTU hall residents have also been advised that their new rooms would not be similar to their current rooms.
Joint ministry response
In response to Mothership.sg queries, the Ministry of Education and Ministry of National Development issued a joint response.
1. Quarantine refers to the isolation of well persons who may have been exposed to an infectious agent (such as those who are close contacts with confirmed 2019-nCoV cases) and may be infected but are not yet ill. This is to prevent the persons from potentially infecting others if he/she is infected and subsequently comes down with symptoms. A Quarantine Order will be issued to the person to compel him/ her to be isolated at a designated place for a specified period of time.
2. The Government will ensure that all persons served with quarantine orders (QOs) will be housed in appropriate locations, including accommodation for people who are unable to serve their Quarantine Order (QO) at home. Suitable Government Quarantine Facilities (GQFs) have been identified in Singapore, including chalets and hostels.
3. GQFs are part of the Government’s response plan for emergencies and may be activated from time to time, in preparation for the possibility that the GQF will be needed to be used as quarantine housing to prevent the spread of the 2019-nCoV amongst the community. We have designated specific hostel blocks in the National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Singapore Management University (SMU) as GQFs. These rooms are meant to be activated, only in the scenario where an international student is required to serve a quarantine order. Our Autonomous Universities (AUs) will ensure that alternative accommodations would be provided for affected international students, where necessary.
4. The GQFs will undergo a thorough cleaning process, according to guidelines from MOH. Care will be taken to make sure the rooms are safe for stay. As people staying at the GQFs are not supposed to come into contact with others, this eliminates the possibility of the spread of virus through person-to-person contact.
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