Singapore hopes to clear 70-80% foreign workers of COVID-19 next month

Gurdip Singh

Singapore, Jun 25 (PTI) About 70 to 80 per cent of foreign workers, including Indian nationals, staying in dormitories in Singapore are expected to be cleared of COVID-19 by the end of July, a senior minister said on Thursday.

About 120,000 migrant workers have either recovered or tested negative for COVID-19 so far, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said at a multi-ministry task force press conference.

“By the end of next month, we will have covered quite a large proportion of the workers in the dormitories,” Channel News Asia quoted Wong as saying.

“And shortly after that, we will be able to completely clear all the workers and clear the dormitories. All the workers, we expect, will be able to resume work thereafter,” Wong said.

Dormitories had become the biggest coronavirus spreading clusters in Singapore as these were crowded with migrant workers.

But following the COVID-19 spread, the government initiated steps to improve the standards for dormitories.

The Singapore government early this month said that it will build new accommodations to improve the living condition of foreign workers and reduce the population density in their quarters, which have seen a very high transmission rate of the novel coronavirus.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Manpower announced that a total of 79,000 migrant workers have been cleared of COVID-19 as of June 22. This figure includes those residing in government-provided accommodation facilities.

A total of 163 dormitories and 18 blocks for recovered workers in 11 purpose-built dormitories have now been cleared of COVID-19, the manpower ministry had said.

Noting that Singapore is controlling the number of infections in the community one week into Phase two of the reopening from two-month of a circuit breaker, Wong said: “We are continuing to make progress to clear the migrant worker clusters and the dormitories, and allow the workers to resume work safely.” Singapore on Thursday reported 113 new COVID-19 infections, pushing the total number of cases to 42,736.

Of the new cases, the vast majority of the cases are work permit holders living in foreign worker dormitories and five are cases in the community, which includes foreign workers living outside the dorms.

There are currently 320,000 people living in dormitories, said Wong, meaning that about 40 per cent of the workers have been cleared of COVID-19 so far. Responding to questions about how many migrant workers have already been tested for COVID-19, Wong said the remaining workers will 'hopefully' be tested in the 'few more weeks beyond that'.

'Twenty per cent will then remain. Hopefully a few more weeks beyond that in August, we will be able to clear all of the workers in the dormitories,' the Channel quoted the minister as saying. PTI GS PMS PMS