The Straits Times

An opening up for migrant workers too

A pilot programme to enable migrant workers in dormitories to visit pre-identified locations in the community is being launched nine months after the scheme was announced last December - and more than 16 months after movement curbs were first imposed here. Theirs has been a long wait, and it is only appropriate that the social needs of these foreign workers be considered and incorporated into the wider calibrated transition that the rest of society is making into an endemic Covid-19 state. Some question the decision, given that memories are still fresh of the dorms as a primary site of infections in the early phase of the pandemic last year. There are also fears about the greater virulence of the Delta variant of the virus that originated abroad and spread.

While understandable, many of the concerns that people may have are unwarranted. Consider these realities. The vaccination rate in Singapore is now more than 80 per cent, and rising. The rate in dorms has gone beyond 90 per cent, and is, in some instances, almost 100 per cent. A strict system of surveillance and rostered routine testing is in place, as is more frequent antigen rapid testing. Workers in dorms are segregated and live in blocks where there are safe living measures. Safe transport and travel rules apply, as do safe working conditions at their worksites. In essence, these workers are as vaccinated and protected and undergo a regimen of measures and testing that is probably more rigorous than the rest of society, who already enjoy the ability to venture out daily to eat, shop and interact.

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