Singapore, Dec 18 (PTI) Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Friday thanked migrant workers for their trust and support despite having gone through a difficult period since Singapore detected its first COVID-19 cases among them almost a year ago and reiterated that they will be cared for just as other Singaporeans.
It took a 'tremendous effort' to reach the stabilised situation and migrant workers are now healthy and safe from the virus, Lee said in a video message on the International Migrants Day.
Lee assured the migrant workers, mostly from South Asian and Southeast Asian countries, that they will be cared for just as other Singaporeans.
'You are welcomed members of our society. If you fall ill, we will make sure you get medical care, stay in touch with your families, and can return to work as soon as possible,' he assured.
Migrant workers are the main source of labour in the marine and construction sectors in the country.
Lee thanked migrant workers here for their trust, patience and support despite having gone through a difficult period and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Singapore's first coronavirus cases were registered in January but a meticulous contact tracing programme managed to keep the infections in check initially.
But when the virus began spreading among migrant workers, authorities struggled to trace and isolate all of the infected and numbers began to skyrocket in that community.
Out of Singapore's 58,341 total positive PCR tests to date, 93 per cent have been among that migrant worker community. In response to the high infection rate, many of the dormitories - often housing thousands of workers - were placed under quarantine in April, essentially locking the workers inside.
'We could not have done this without your cooperation and sacrifices,' The Straits Times quoted Lee as saying. He pointed out that the rules put in place to keep COVID-19 spread in check are gradually being eased in migrant worker dormitories and the wider community.
Besides being able to visit recreational centres, migrant workers can now also take part in communal activities like cooking and sports.
'With some luck, if the number of cases stays very low, we can ease up further. Please stay vigilant, and cooperate with the government and with your employers to keep everyone safe,' Lee said.
'On behalf of all Singaporeans, I thank you once again for all your contributions and support, and I wish you a very happy International Migrants Day!' To mark the occasion, Migrant Workers' Centre (MWC) under the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) is organising a series of activities and events from December 13 to 27. Migrant workers can participate in a digital roadshow co-hosted by the MWC and telecommunications company Singtel on the MWC's Facebook page, which features performances by Bangladeshi and Indian celebrities as well as games with prizes to be won.
The MWC will also present its annual awards to 20 migrant 'grassroots ambassadors' to recognise their efforts in going 'above and beyond' to help fellow workers. PTI GS NSA