Singapore’s early success in managing the Covid-19 pandemic is under threat from a sharp rise in cases in foreign-worker dormitories, leading to six more such facilities being locked down yesterday, keeping tens of thousands of workers in crowded conditions.
At the same time, the government has begun decanting uninfected workers onto less-crowded floating accommodation, with a plan to rehouse 1,300 in the coming weeks.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) first locked down two dormitories, housing 20,000 workers – many of whom work in construction – on 5 April, when the city state’s tally of confirmed cases stood at 1,200, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
By yesterday, when the government announced that six more would be "gazetted", the Covid-19 tally had nearly tripled, to 3,300.
One Bangladeshi worker living in a dorm with known infections told the AFP news agency that social distancing was "impossible" with 12 people sharing a small room, and with communal kitchens and bathrooms.
"We know the virus character, how this is spread – so if this living condition continue I am very worried," he said.Â
The government on Monday decanted the first batch of 31 uninfected workers onto one of the three floating accommodations berthed at Tanjong Pagar Terminal (Government of Singapore)
The eight isolated dorms, run by private companies, had "a large number" of Covid-19 cases in them, the government said.
They are Acacia Lodge, Cochrane Lodge I, Cochrane Lodge II, Tampines Dormitory, Sungei Tengah Lodge, Toh Guan Dormitory, S11 Dormitory @ Punggol ("S11") and Westlite (Toh Guan) Dormitory.
Workers must stay in them, while access to recreational facilities will be regulated to reduce mixing.
They will be paid salaries, get three catered meals a day, and receive medical care onsite, as well as reusable masks, thermometers and hand sanitisers.
In an effort to tackle the problem of ongoing dormitory incubation of the disease, the government on Monday decanted the first batch of 31 uninfected workers onto one of three floating accommodations berthed at Tanjong Pagar Terminal.
In the coming weeks, after screening, some 1,300 healthy workers will be moved to the floating accommodations, where two to three people share rooms.
Top image: Quarantined workers will be paid salaries, get three catered meals a day, and receive medical care onsite, as well as reusable masks, thermometers and hand sanitisers (Government of Singapore)