In his speech yesterday night (Jun 11), Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean touched on the government’s actions regarding the migrant worker dormitories under his point on crisis response.
SM Teo highlighted that measures like heightened surveillance and tightened precautions had been put in place in migrant worker dormitories early on. He pointed out that this was insufficient due to the fact that Covid-19 was much more infectious than SARS.
However, SM Teo said that the government “acted decisively” when the number of cases in the dormitories spiked from zero to 26 in 10 days, and isolated the dormitories with immediate effect. Despite this, the number of cases ballooned to over 1,000 new cases a day within two weeks. SM Teo pointed at the infectiousness of the virus and the communal living conditions of the dormitories as reasons for the major spike in numbers.
To date, Singapore has more than 39,000 Covid-19 cases, and since the huge spike in the number of cases in the dormitories, migrant workers have made up more than 90% of the number of cases daily.
There was widespread outrage when the conditions that migrant workers were living in went viral. Workers complained of cramped and unsanitary living conditions, where social distancing was a luxury. Some dormitories have 12 beds in a room, making it difficult for workers to maintain a safe distance amongst themselves.
In response to SM Teo’s speech, and in particular on the part about the government’s crisis response with regards to migrant worker dormitories, some netizens still view the situation as a failure on the part of the government.
Some also pointed out that the government had received warnings regarding the migrant worker dormitories. Groups championing the rights of the migrant workers had raised questions about the living conditions in the dormitories, even before the outbreak of the pandemic.
Others pointed out that the situation in the migrant worker dormitories had not started as a result of the pandemic.
Others criticised the government’s response.