Singapore—Due to the rising number of new Covid-19 cases in the country, more stringent measures have been put in place, including putting almost 20,000 migrant workers under quarantine for 14 days because of the number of Covid-19 cases that have shot up in their dormitories.
On Sunday (Apr 5), Singapore saw the highest number of infections since the coronavirus outbreak began, with a record of 120 new confirmed cases. Many of the new cases have been linked to the dormitories of foreign workers.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) identified two dormitories in particular in its update on Sunday, “transmissions within foreign worker dormitories have continued to rise and we are seeing more confirmed cases and workers who are ill. The S11 Dormitory @ Punggol (2 Seletar North Link) and Westlite Toh Guan dormitory (18 Toh Guan Road East) are of particular concern.”
As a result, S11 Dormitory @ Punggol and Westlite Toh Guan dormitory have been designated as isolation areas. MOH also deployed medical support in the area and is providing food and other essential supplies.
There are 63 patients linked to S11 Dormitory @ Punggol and 28 patients linked to Westlite Toh Guan dormitory, making them the two largest clusters among the affected workers’ dormitories. All in all, there are 19,800 workers in these dormitories.
MOH added, “Given the rising number of confirmed cases, this is necessary to avoid the risk of further transmissions from any potentially infected workers to others in the dormitories, as well as into the community. Workers who are symptomatic have already been isolated.”
For the workers living in these dormitories who are not ill, measures to ensure they stay well are already in place, including regulated access to recreational facilities. Furthermore, workers will not be allowed to move between blocks, for now, and they have been advised to desist from social interactions with those who do not live on the same floor or room.
Along with onsite medical support, authorities have also installed enhanced health screening measures at the dormitories, including mandatory temperature taking twice daily, as well as monitoring for symptoms of fever and respiratory ailments. Any worker showing these symptoms are immediately isolated and evaluated by medical personnel.
The Ministry of Manpower is now working with the operators of foreign workers’ dormitories to reduce the density of the residents in these living quarters, relocating some to alternative locations for the time being to lessen the number of residents per building.
While the workers who are quarantined are currently not working, they will still be receiving their salaries, with this two-week period considered as paid hospitalisation leave as part of the worker’s leave eligibility under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA). Furthermore, the companies they work for are eligible to claim the $100 quarantine allowance daily.
There are currently 1,309 confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country, including six deaths.
In the press conference held by the multi-ministry task force designated to address the issues stemming from the coronavirus crisis, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said, “We want to give foreign workers the assurance that these measures are taken in their interests, and their well being.” —/TISG
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