Coronavirus News Asia

Singapore moves migrant workers out of dorms

Thousands of migrant workers are being moved out of crowded dormitories in Singapore after a surge in new coronavirus cases linked to the sites, authorities said Thursday.  

A sharp jump in cases in the massive dormitories had already prompted authorities to quarantine four complexes housing tens of thousands of people this week. 

Fears had been growing among the workers, many of whom are construction labourers from South Asia, that they were highly vulnerable to infection in the cramped dorms where social distancing is difficult.

Singapore health officials Thursday reported a record daily increase of 287 new virus cases – over 200 of which were linked to the dorms.

In a bid to reduce the risk of infection, many migrant workers are now being moved from dormitories to other sites including military barracks, vacant apartment blocks and a massive exhibition site where the Singapore Airshow takes place, authorities said.

About 5,000 who work in services deemed essential have already been transferred, and thousands more will be transferred in the coming days with the help of the armed forces and the police, they said.

“We are sparing no effort to contain the spread of the virus in the foreign worker dormitories,” said Lawrence Wong, a cabinet minister who is a key figure in Singapore’s fight against the Covid-19 outbreak.

But he warned that “despite our best efforts at containing the situation, all of us have to be mentally prepared that the numbers in the foreign worker dormitories will continue to rise in the coming days, and perhaps even in the coming week”.

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