PUB confirms staff tested positive for coronavirus, 70 employees told to telecommute for the day

Staff on one level of the building were told to telecommute for the rest of the day.

Melanie Lim | Ashley Tan | Kayla Wong | February 14, 2020, 06:52 PM

The Environment Building at Newton had confirmed a Covid-19 case on Friday, Feb. 14.

The patient in question is an administrative staff who works in the environment building.

The staff is not involved in PUB's plant or field operations.

Employees seen leaving Environment Building

According to Lianhe Zaobao, employees working at the building were "evacuated" on Friday morning, Feb. 14.

The building houses the offices of the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources, National Environment Agency and Public Utilities Board (PUB).

No evacuation, employees on affected level told to telecommute

However, PUB stated in a press release that only the employees on the affected level, about 70 of them, were asked to leave their workstations and telecommute for the rest of the day.

The staff are expected to return to work on Monday, Feb. 17.

The affected office space, as well as common areas such as lifts, pantry and toilets are being cleaned and disinfected in accordance with the National Environment Agency's guidelines.

It is unknown if the confirmed case is included in the nine new cases announced on Feb. 14.

The number of confirmed cases in Singapore is now 67.

Of the total cases, 17 have been discharged from hospital, including the two who were discharged on Friday.

Splitting senior management team

PUB also stated that it will "split" its senior management team, a decision that was made "separate and unrelated" to the confirmed case.

This is in line with existing business continuity plans.

Hand sanitisers have been made available to PUB staff, and every employee has been given a personal thermometer. They are to monitor their daily body temperature and report it twice daily.

Leaders warned situation might get worse

No deaths have been reported in the country yet, but local leaders have warned that the country must be prepared for what lies ahead.

Kenneth Mak, director of medical services at the Ministry of Health, said at a press conference on Wednesday, Feb. 12, that the country has to "make preparations for the worst case scenario". 

Janil Puthucheary, Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information, told CNBC the country must be "psychologically prepared" for possible deaths as the number of cases is expected to continue to rise.

Top image via Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources