SINGAPORE: All foreign worker dormitory residents who test negative for COVID-19 will be able to visit recreation centres on their days off from Saturday (Oct 31), said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Wednesday.
They must also come from a dormitory that has no active COVID-19 cases.
This comes after more than two months of trials when around 30,000 workers from about 300 dormitories were allowed to visit recreation centres on their rest days.
Eight recreation centres across Singapore will open by the end of the week and workers will choose from one of five three-hour slots from 8am to 11pm.
At these centres, they will be able to shop for groceries, remit money, get a haircut and dine with their friends. Safe distancing officers will be on the ground to make sure the workers adhere to COVID-19 safety measures.
READ: Antigen rapid tests piloted for quicker detection of COVID-19 among migrant workers
So far, workers have only been permitted to leave their dormitories for work and errands.
To visit their dormitory’s assigned recreation centre, they will have to apply for an exit pass via the SGWorkPass mobile application and can do so seven days in advance.
As part of safety measures, workers – who currently have their rest days staggered throughout the week – have to pre-book time slots on the SGWorkPass mobile application to prevent overcrowding at these centres.
“The number of exit passes issued for each time slot will be controlled through the application system,” said MOM.
Dormitory operators and personnel at the recreation centres will check that workers have valid exit passes before they are allowed to enter or exit.
Apart from taking company-charted buses to the locations, those who live in the vicinity are allowed to walk or cycle there as well.
JTC Corporation (JTC), which runs five of eight recreation centres, used to welcome between 3,000 and 4,000 workers a day before the pandemic, said the agency’s housing and community division assistant manager S Darison Kumar.
Mr Darison, who runs the Tuas South recreation centre, said JTC will cap the capacity of each session at an average of 300 workers.
IMPROVEMENTS TO TIME SLOTS
Several improvements were made following feedback from workers during the trial period, said MOM’s director of occupational safety and health Christopher Koh.
The ministry will add an additional time slot of 8pm to 11pm to cater to workers who do overtime work on their rest days, as some of them are unable to make it for the current last slot of 5pm to 8pm.
Professor Hugh Pennington, emeritus professor of bacteriology at Aberdeen University, told the Daily Telegraph the commandeering of hotels could be the “only solution” to fears that Scots are not self isolating following a positive test.
Such Covid hotels have been used in Australia, New Zealand and South Korea.
John Swinney: ‘Don’t take kids out guising as they could be given bags of sweeties carrying coronavirus’
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Scots should be asked to quarantine in Covid hotels after a positive test, says Professor Hugh Pennington
Citizens flying back into Australia, for example, are required to quarantine for 14 days in a so-called ‘Covid hotel’ at their own expense before being allowed to mix amongst the community.
Prof Pennington told the national newspaper the biggest issue behind the recent rise in Covid cases in Scotland was a failure by people to self-isolate.
“The data suggests that only about 20 per cent of people are fully self-isolating when they are asked to, which drives a coach and horses through the Test and Protect system,” he said.
“You can test until your heart’s content, but if people aren’t acting on the basis of the result if it’s positive, you might as well not have tested them in the first place.
Professor Hugh Pennington
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is considering the proposal to have Covid hotels to allow carriers to voluntarily isolate away from their families until they are no longer infectious.
The proposal has been backed by Devi Sridhar, chairwoman of global public health at the University of Edinburgh, as a means of suppressing coronavirus.
Ms Sturgeon last week introduced a new five-tier system to battle the surge in coronavirus cases.
But the Scottish Government has otherwise taken a softer approach to penalising those who flout coronavirus restrictions, with police only having the powers to issue a fixed £60 fine north of the Border compared to the threat of a £4,000 fine in England.
Prof Sridhar has suggested the Covid ‘hotel’ facilities should be managed by the NHS.
A study produced out of King’s College London found fewer than one in five people UK-wide had self-isolated after becoming ill with Covid symptoms.
“It’s major problem,” Prof Pennington told the Daily Telegraph.
“The only solution that would actually work in practice is to put people in hotels, which is what they’ve done in Australia and New Zealand.”
Trump administration and campaign officials faced questioning on Sunday about Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceOvernight Health Care: Following debate, Biden hammers Trump on coronavirus | Study: Universal mask-wearing could save 130,000 lives | Finger-pointing picks up in COVID-19 relief fight Democrats play defense, GOP goes on attack after Biden oil comments McConnell tees up Barrett nomination, setting up rare weekend session MORE’s planned travel in the upcoming week after reports revealed two of his top aides tested positive for COVID-19.
White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsSenate Health Committee chair asks Cuomo, Newsom to ‘stop second guessing’ FDA on vaccine efficacy Sunday shows preview: Trump, Biden gear up for final sprint to Election Day Trump hasn’t asked Barr to open investigation into Bidens, McEnany says MOREdefended Pence’s campaign travel on CNN’s “State of the Union,” promoting the administration’s argument that Pence serves as an essential worker and is allowed to continue campaigning in person.
“As we look at that, essential personnel, whether it’s the vice president of the United States or anyone else, has to continue on,” Meadows said after host Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperNY Times slammed for glowing Farrakhan op-ed: ‘You would think he was a gentleman’ Democrats condemn Trump’s rhetoric against Michigan governor as allies defend rally Illinois governor blames Trump’s allies for state’s wrong direction on coronavirus MORE pressed him on how campaigning classified as essential work.
Meadows declined to say how many people in the vice president’s office have contracted coronavirus, telling CNN’s Jake Tapper that “we don’t give out that kind of information.”
The chief of staff stressed that Pence is “wearing a mask, socially distancing and when he goes up to speak he will take the mask off, put it back on.” The vice president was not wearing a mask while speaking at a rally in Tallahassee, Fla. on Saturday.
Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, and adviser Marty Obst both tested positivefor COVID-19, but the vice president himself has tested negative for the virus twice.
Trump campaign adviser Corey LewandowskiCorey R. LewandowskiSunday shows preview: Trump, Biden gear up for final sprint to Election Day Senate needs to confirm Judge Barrett before Election Day The Memo: Biden landslide creeps into view MORE on Sunday also stood by Pence’s campaigning, noting on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisTrump knocks idea of a ‘female socialist president’ Sanders hits back at Trump’s attack on ‘socialized medicine’ Watch live: Biden participates in HBCU homecoming MORE (D-Calif.) the Democratic vice presidential nominee, continued her campaign after a staffer tested positive.
“I’m sure he’ll do what’s necessary and what’s appropriate,” Lewandowski said, referring to Pence. “And look, we’ve also seen Kamala Harris’s team — members of her team come down with COVID and she took the necessary precautions.”
Harris’s communications director, Liz Allen, tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, prompting the senator to cancel some planned travel to Oct. 18. But
United Airlines Holdings(NASDAQ:UAL) on Wednesday will become the first U.S. airline to test a digital health project designed to standardize international COVID-19 screenings and allow for borders to reopen.
United and Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific Airways are both testing a system set up by CommonPass, a nonprofit backed by the World Economic Forum that hopes to create a “COVID passport” of sorts that will ease concerns about the virus spreading via travel.
Image source: United Airlines.
Travelers on a United flight from London to Newark on Wednesday will upload COVID-19 test results into their smartphones and complete all health screening questionnaires required by the country of entry. The system verifies that the test results, or eventually vaccination records, come from a trusted source and that they satisfy the destination country’s requirements.
Users of the system will get a QR code that border officials can scan upon arrival.
The system isn’t an app itself, but rather the underlying technology that can be used in apps created by airlines, travel companies, and government agencies. The goal is to have an international standard trusted enough that it will allow countries to do away with the bans and quarantine procedures currently in place.
Other airlines are expected to trial the system in the months to come.
Airlines have struggled since the onset of the pandemic, and it will likely take years for lucrative international travel to return. Although there isn’t likely to be any immediate impact from initiatives like the CommonPass, any framework that helps governments feel more secure in lifting travel restrictions should help travel demand to return more quickly than it otherwise would.
London’s Heathrow airport launched a new service Tuesday to rapidly test for Covid-19 before passengers depart on their flights. Simultaneously, the U.K. government has announced plans to slash quarantine on international arrivals from 14 days to one week.
It is hoped that both schemes will encourage passengers back in the air.
The UK’s first rapid pre-flight Covid-19 testing facility will cost £80 ($104) with results taking around an hour to complete–Oxford LAMP tests are being used. LAMP tests, unlike others, do not need to go to a laboratory to be processed.
Collinson and logistics firm Swissport described the pre-departure testing regime as the “crucial next step toward keeping the travel industry moving while limiting the spread of the virus”, as reported in The Telegraph.
The testing will be located at terminals 2 and 5 for passengers traveling to destinations that require pre-departure testing, notably Hong Kong and Italy, as reported by CNN. The trial will take place for 4 weeks, used by airlines British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Cathay Pacific, and will record passenger and airline take up.
Skyscanner polled 3,525 U.K. travelers as to their thoughts on Heathrow’s new rapid testing facility and discovered that 69% of them would be prepared to pay for a test in order to be able to travel and avoid quarantine upon arrival.
An additional study by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) found that 86% of Britons say they are willing to be tested to facilitate travel, quoted in TheTelegraph.
The U.K. transport secretary, speaking at an aviation conference Airlines 2050 on Monday 19 October, announced that a new testing system would be introduced by December 1 to allow quarantine to be slashed from 14 to 7 days for travelers arriving back in the country.
It was coined a “domestic ‘test and release’ approach” where travelers returning from overseas would quarantine for 7 days and then be allowed to take a Covid-19 test, available through the private sector. If the result was negative, international travelers would be allowed to end their period of self-isolation. 78% of U.K. travelers polled by Skyscanner said that this would make them more likely to travel abroad to certain countries.
Hugh Aitken, VP of Skyscanner stated that the “a combination of reduced quarantine length and more airport testing measures could mean we see more travellers feeling confident to travel to their favourite places again without being heavily impacted on their return.”
More than 200 people who underwent hotel quarantine in Victoria have been urged to go get tested for HIV and other viruses after a testing stuff up resulted in possible cross-contamination.
Safer Care Victoria announced yesterday that 243 people who underwent blood glucose level tests while in coronavirus hotel quarantine between March 29 and August 20 could be at risk of contracting a blood borne virus after the same test was used on multiple people.
“Blood glucose level testing devices intended for use by one person were used across multiple residents,” Safer Care Victoria said in a statement.
“This presents a low clinical risk of cross-contamination and blood borne viruses – Hepatitis B and C, and HIV.”
A blood glucose level test involves pricking a finger to get a drop of blood to be used in the testing device.
RELATED: Follow our latest coronavirus updates
CEO Safer Care Victoria Adj Assoc Prof Ann Maree Keenan said the agency was conducting a review to figure out how the stuff-up occurred.
“The health of past quarantine residents is our immediate concern, so arranging screening for them is our absolute priority. The clinical risk is low. But if you are at all worried you had this test – and we have not contacted you yet – please call us,” Prof Keenan said.
“Right now, we won’t be able to answer the many questions people will have about how this happened. Be assured that Safer Care Victoria is conducting a full review into how and why this device came to be in use.
“I hope that we will be able to bring peace of mind through getting people in for testing, and through the findings of our review.”
If anyone is concerned they had this test but have not yet been contacted they can call the Safer Care Patient line on 1800 356 061.
RELATED: 1.7 million lost Aussies due to COVID
Former Labor leader Bill Shorten weighed in on Victoria’s latest hotel quarantine stuff-up.
Speaking on the Today show on Tuesday, Mr Shorten said the mistakes occurring in Victoria “are not good enough”.
Mr Shorten said this was a timely reminder that people still needed to “keep our guard up against the old nasties we know about”.
“It must be really stressful and worrying for the people who have gone through this. I hope that they can get the tests results back as quick as possible,” he said.
Health Minister Martin Foley addressed the testing stuff-up at a press conference this morning, clarifying that the needles used in the test were changed between each use by the device was not changed, despite it being meant for repeated used by one person, not multiple people.
“I need to stress that this is, according to all the clinical advice, a very, very low risk of cross contamination but, out of an abundance of caution, Safer Care Victoria and the Alfred Hospital are doing precisely the right thing in a very risk-averse way of seeking to
Angela Margos was among the first passengers in San Francisco to get on a plane headed for Hawaii, where travelers who test negative for the coronavirus will no longer be required to self-quarantine for two weeks.
“Vacation, peace of mind,” said Margos, a nurse from San Carlos, California, of why she’s flying to Hawaii. “I need time to relax, unwind.”
The pre-travel testing program began Thursday and allows visitors who test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of their arrival in the islands to avoid quarantine — a measure that’s been in place for all arriving passengers for most of the year.
Officials had touted the mandatory quarantine rule as an integral part of Hawaii’s early success in keeping the coronavirus at bay. The new testing program is an effort to stem the devastating downturn the pandemic has had on Hawaii’s tourism-based economy.
Margos ran into hiccups with getting her test. She first did it at the hospital where she works, only to find out it wasn’t an approved site for United Airlines and the state of Hawaii. She then paid $105 for a drive-thru test, but was later informed there was an error with that test.
Margo ultimately paid $250 for a fast-result test Thursday at the airport in San Francisco, which came back negative.
But gaps in the pre-travel testing program coupled with increasing cases of COVID-19 across the U.S. have raised questions about whether Hawaii is ready to safely welcome back vacationers.
And when local restrictions were eased before summertime holidays, community spread of the disease spiked to alarming levels, forcing a second round of stay-at-home orders for residents and closures for nonessential businesses.
Opponents of the testing program have said a single test 72 hours before arrival — especially when coupled with the option to fly without a test and still quarantine — is not enough to keep island residents safe.
Kathleen Miyashita and her husband were among those who came to Hawaii Thursday without getting tested. They said they plan to quarantine at their family’s farm on Oahu.
“We chose to do the 14 day quarantine,” Miyashita said. “We have no issues with having food being brought in. It’s like a quarantining haven in terms of having fresh fruits and vegetables at home.”
She said she and her husband were “not at all” concerned about being asymptomatic carriers of the disease.
“We’ve been traveling and we just take precautions,” she said, adding that they had already done one quarantine in Hawaii about two months ago.
Kansas head football coach Les Miles said Friday that he has been cleared to return to work after testing positive for COVID-19 last week.
According to Bruce Feldman of The Athletic, Miles said that despite being cleared, he will not travel with the team for their game against West Virginia on Saturday. Tight ends coach Joshua Eargle will serve as the Jayhawks’ acting head coach for the game.
Miles said the following about his decision, per ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg: “There is too much still unknown about this virus for me to feel 100 percent confident that I won’t transmit it to someone who comes into close contact with me on the team charter, hotel or at the game Saturday.”
According to ESPN’sMark Schlabach, the 66-year-old Miles said he entered into a 10-day quarantine at his home after announcing he tested positive Oct. 8. Miles handled his coaching duties remotely and didn’t attend any practices.
Miles is in the midst of his second season as the head coach at Kansas after previous stints with Oklahoma State and LSU.
Overall, Miles owns a 145-67 record and he led LSU to a national championship in 2007. In his first season as head coach of the Jayhawks in 2019, Miles went 3-9.
Kansas, which hasn’t won more than three games in a season since going 5-7 in 2009 and hasn’t had a winning record since going 8-5 in 2008, is off to an 0-3 start this season.
The Jayhawks fell to Sun Belt team Coastal Carolina in their first game this season and have since been blown out by Baylor and Oklahoma State.
WVU, which is hosting Kansas at Mountaineer Field in Morgantown, West Virginia, on Saturday, is 2-1 on the season.
Last week, the Mountaineers beat Baylor 27-21 to improve to 2-1, making them a big favorite against Kansas since the Jayhawks struggled to hang with Baylor.
On Saturday, Kansas will look to score its first victory over West Virginia since beating the Mountaineers 31-19 in 2013.
Kansas coach Les Miles will not travel with his team for Saturday’s Week 7 game at West Virginia. In a Friday statement, Kansas said that Miles has been cleared to travel to Morgantown, but he’s opted not to out of caution. Miles just completed his 10-day isolation window after it was announced on Oct. 8 that he tested positive for COVID-19.
“While my 10-day isolation window was completed this morning, there is too much still unknown about this virus for me to feel 100 percent confident that I won’t transmit it to someone who comes into close contact with me on the team charter, hotel or at the game Saturday,” Miles said in a statement. “As we continue to work our way through this pandemic, nothing is more important than the health and safety of our players, coaches and staff that make up this great team. As the head coach, it is up to me to set the right example for our student-athletes, and that is what I am doing with this decision by not traveling with the team.”
Assistant coach Josh Eagle will coach the Jayhawks against the Mountaineers.
Miles is the fifth coach to publicly test positive for the coronavirus since the season began. Alabama’s Nick Saban, Florida State’s Mike Norvell, Arkansas State’s Blake Anderson and Arizona’s Kevin Sumlin have all tested positive. Saban’s positive test comes ahead of the Crimson Tide’s prime time showdown with Georgia — by far carrying the biggest game implications since Week 1.
HONOLULU — About 8,000 people landed in Hawaii on the first day of a pre-travel testing program.
It allows travelers to come to the islands without quarantining for two weeks if they produce a negative coronavirus test. The state-run testing program is an effort to stem the devastating downturn caused by the pandemic on Hawaii’s tourism-based economy.
However, gaps in the program coupled with increasing cases across the U.S. and the world have raised questions about whether Hawaii is ready to safely welcome back vacationers.
Meanwhile, restaurant cards for unemployed workers are expected to begin arriving in Hawaii mailboxes on Friday. The $500 prepaid debit cards cover meals and purchases at bakeries and catering services. About 116,000 state residents have filed for unemployment insurance.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— U.S. testing 3 drugs to try to tamp down coronavirus
— France records 30,000 virus cases, highest single-day rise
— India reports 680 daily deaths, lowest in nearly three months
— Europe, U.S. reel as virus infections surge at record pace, prompt new restrictions
— White House puts political operatives at CDC to try to control virus information
— Thousands arrive in Hawaii on first day pre-travel testing allowing no quarantine
— Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
LONDON — Lancashire agreed to move into England’s most severe level of COVID-19 restrictions after striking a deal with the U.K. government on funds to implement the measures.
The deal means that the region of 1.5 million people will join the neighboring Liverpool region in the government’s highest risk tier, forcing pubs and bars to close. Restrictions on socializing also come into effect and residents are advised to minimize travel.
No deal is in sightfor Greater Manchester, which is holding out for more money to implement the measures targeted at areas with the highest infection rates. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has criticized Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham for “effectively trying to hold the government over a barrel over money and politics.’’
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina — A leading Bosnian politician has tested positive for coronavirus as the country hit a record number of new cases.
Bakir Izetbegovic, the president of the Party of Democratic Action and a former Muslim member of the Bosnian three-member presidency, on Friday tested positive for COVID-19, his party said.
The 64-year-old has gone into isolation since taking a test after he felt mild symptoms of the virus, the Klix online portal said. He is recovering at home.
Bosnian health authorities on Friday reported 621 cases and eight deaths.
BUCHAREST, Romania — Romania recorded more than 4,000 confirmed daily coronavirus infections for the third straight day.
Health authorities reported a record 4,026 cases on Friday. There were 75 deaths, slightly below the all-time-high of 82.
The nation of 19 million has conducted more than 2.8 million tests. There have been 172,516 confirmed cases and 5,749 deaths.
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Coronavirus infections in Slovakia hit a record high for the