A local non-governmental organisation (NGO) serving migrant workers in Singapore says it has faced "unprecedented repercussions" and has had to turn many of its patients away in recent weeks, due to the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak in Singapore.
This after it said measures put in place by healthcare organisations and the government have prevented many of its usual volunteer doctors from seeing patients in need of medical treatment.
Impact of Covid-19 outbreak on HealthServe
HealthServe, a nonprofit serving the migrant worker community in Singapore, normally operates three volunteer-run clinics, located at their main office in Geylang, at Jurong, and at Mandai.
At these clinics, migrant workers are able to access medical care for a nominal fee of S$8.
However, after the announcement of DORSCON Orange in early February, doctors working in public institutions were given the directive that they should not move from one healthcare institution to another in order to avoid cross-infection.
As a result, HealthServe's volunteer doctor pool dropped from more than 120 doctors to less than 10 available to come into their clinics, according to the organisation's website.
According to its website, despite only having one clinic running, the organisation is still unable to find enough doctors to meet the needs of migrant worker patients, and have had to turn away migrant workers at every clinic session.
The clinic has also been unable to procure supplies it requires in view of the worldwide shortage.
Many of the services that HealthServe regularly offers to migrant workers, including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) have been suspended, and larger events such as mental wellness group outings and migrant community events have been cancelled.
Their counselling service has also stopped accepting new individuals seeking help.
Impact on wider migrant community
The public's response to DORSCON Orange as well as the measures put in place in light of it have also had a heavy impact on the migrant worker community in Singapore in general, HealthServe highlighted.
For example, there has been a shortage in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and personal hygiene resources as a result of panic-buying, price hikes as well as the scale of the Covid-19 outbreak in other countries leading to reductions in supplies.
In addition, fake news spread among the migrant community caused fear and anxiety amongst workers, affecting mental wellbeing, and those from China and Bangladesh especially also faced xenophobic attitudes and reactions in the wake of the Covid-19 situation.
And finally, workers have also been affected by quarantine orders, Leave of Absences (LOAs), and and Stay-home notices (SHNs) arising from the spread of the virus.