A 21-year-old construction worker from Bangladesh, who has died from diphtheria, is likely to have been infected in Singapore.

Now, before you start worrying, the last local case of diphtheria was reported in 1992 and the Ministry of Health (MOH) said that the risk of diphtheria spreading locally is low.

Diphtheria vaccination is also compulsory in Singapore and as high as 98 per cent of two-year-old Singaporeans kids are vaccinated against this disease.

The 48 people who had been in close contact with the Bangladesh worker have also been isolated and are being screened.

Regardless, we shouldn’t be too worried if we have been practising good hygiene, like washing your hands regularly and doing it the right way.

But what many of us are guilty of, is turning up at work when we are sick.

And such practice or presenteeism increases the risk of transmitting infectious diseases in the workplace.

Obviously, we know that we are less productive and efficient when we are sick. Without the needed time to recuperate, we take a longer time to recover. This also unnecessarily adds on to our stress. We feel terrible but we dutifully wear a mask and report to work. Why do we continue doing so?

Presenteeism is seen to be a positive work attribute and secretly, we judge those that don’t physically report to work.

There are also impossible deadlines to meet and the team is understaffed. Also, bosses typically think that a piece of work can be completed in a shorter time that the job really took.

And being Singaporeans, we try to save our annual leave for holiday plans.

Before we talk about work-life balance and flexi-work arrangements, we should first do something about presenteeism.