DOS Update #7 - "Everyone is scared, but it’s part of our job"

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Cleaning supervisor Mr Mohamad Rizal demonstrates to his co-worker Mr Syfiq Amad how to put on a Personal Protective Equipment before he enters the Government Quarantine Facility rooms. Photo: Sean Tan, Head, Student Organisations, OSA

3 February 2020

Dear Students:


  • There are now four students in the Government Quarantine Facility (GQF) at Prince Georges’ Park Residences (PGPR).
  • MOH has changed it to “2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)” instead of “Wuhan Virus”.
  • Newspapers still calling it "Wuhan Virus".

I’ve written about how students have been supporting their friends on Leave of Absence by delivering food and organising social activities online.

But a large part of the work that goes into keeping us safe is done by cleaners – who not only have to take on additional cleaning duties, but do so wrapped in full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

The GQF at PGPR has a new morning meeting which all cleaners have to attend at the start of their day. The “toolbox meeting” is a 10-minute huddle with the entire cleaning team on tasks to be completed, and to communicate the safety procedures. It also outlines expectations for the cleaners to keep themselves and others safe.

Cleaners have undergone two sessions of training. The training included protocols such as the donning of PPE and methods of disinfecting the GQF rooms. Only cleaning agents approved by relevant authorities are used for sanitising and disinfecting.

These cleaners are from the existing pool of cleaners as they are already familiar with the room layout.  The cleaning teams have added new sanitising tasks (e.g. handles, railings, cleaning of toilets) to their daily routines. They work overtime if needed and are paid for doing so.

Mr Sng Jin Soon, Director, Office of Housing Services (OHS) said: “Cleaners practise proper cleaning of contaminated objects and surfaces and also ensure proper waste disposal.”

Although Mr Mohamad Rizal has only begun work in NUS 3 weeks ago, the 37-year old Cleaning Supervisor at PGPR is no novice when it comes to ensuring safety. Rizal had experienced SARS in 2003 back in his days as a fire fighter at Changi Fire Station. He was trained in putting on a PPE. “This is all very familiar to me,” he said.


Mr Mohamad supervises Mr Syfiq Amad, as he demonstrates the cleaning procedure. Mr Syfiq, 24, is one of the experienced cleaners deployed to clean the rooms. Photo: Sean Tan, Head, Student Organisations, OSA

The cleaners start from the end of the room furthest from the door, and start cleaning from there. Slowly, they make their way out to the door so that they will not miss any corner.

Mr Syfiq, who went through the two training sessions by OHS, said: “Cleaning the room dressed in PPE is hard. Only 10 minutes of cleaning and already very hot.”

“Everyone is scared, but it’s part of our job.”

A/P Leong Ching
NUS Dean of Students


#QOTD Questions of the Day


Answers by Mr Sng Jin Soon, Director, Office of Housing Services (OHS), on enquiries from PGPR hostellites.

Question: “Why do R2 students have to move to R1? R1 does not seem to be ready for occupancy in terms of amenities, maintenance and housekeeping.”

R1 was being prepped for renovation, and so not all the rooms were ready for occupancy. But we are dedicated to making your stay here better. We have engaged additional resources and overtime work by external vendors from across all of our OHS properties to accelerate our efforts at sprucing up R1. These include pest control measures (including mosquito breeding prevention), toilet and shower repairs, kitchen amenities, etc. 

Question: “How long will this GQF be in place and when can we move back to our R2 original rooms?” 

We are monitoring the situation and working very closely with the authorities, given the evolving and uncertain nature of the coronavirus situation.  Once the authority releases R2 back to NUS, we will arrange for your move back to R2 on a priority basis, and in the soonest time possible.

Question: “May I put in a request to move to another housing within NUS with air-conditioning?”

Yes, you may. Please be assured that all of the displaced R2 students have been placed on a priority waiting list which will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Requests can be put through the Housing Admission Services portal here.

Question: “May I request for a portable air-conditioner?”

All requests for portable air-conditioners will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis with the following guidelines:

  • OHS has a limited inventory. Requests will be subject to availability and allowable electrical load capacity per floor.
  • Students with verified medical conditions will be given priority.

Question: “Where can I receive my mail?”

You can still do your mail collection at the mail boxes located at PGPR management office according to your R2 block address. If you are unable to find your letters, please check with my front desk colleagues.

Question: “Since I have moved out of R2, will my rental rates be adjusted?”

OHS will adjust and/or refund the rental rates to reflect your current accommodation type with effect from 26 January 2020. Refunds will be administered from 17 Feb 2020 to 16 Mar 2020.

Question: “Will I be refunded for unused air-con credits?”



Read More: 

DOS Update #8 -- Noisy Fans and Fishy Water: Life on the Inside (4 February 2020)



DOS Update #1 28 January 2020
DOS Update #2 -- The Proximity of Noses (29 January 2020)
DOS Update #3 -- Black cats, white cats and the placebo effect (30 January 2020)
DOS Update #4 -- A Thousand Words (31 January 2020)
DOS Update #5 -- Food, Buses and the Virtual Company of Friends (1 February 2020)
DOS Update #6 -- What's in a name? (2 February 2020)