The Straits Times says

Securing dorms against future outbreaks

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Migrant worker dormitories were hit badly by the coronavirus pandemic early on during the outbreak of the disease in 2020. They reported hundreds of cases every day before the virus made inroads into the wider community. There was a widespread view that the situation in those living quarters was Singapore's Achilles heel, but the authorities did not consider letting the pandemic burn through the dorms. To have done so would have been to abdicate Singapore's moral responsibility towards foreign workers who have contributed much to the country to this day. The idea of allowing infections to occur naturally to gain herd immunity among foreign workers would also have been discriminatory since that principle would not have been applied to the wider population. Nevertheless, the close proximity of dorm life took a toll on the physical and mental well-being of workers as Covid-19 spread among them. One of the lessons of the outbreak, therefore, was that improving the quality of life of migrant workers also enhanced that of the nation.

That is largely the objective of the announcement by the Ministry of Manpower this week that about 1,600 dormitories which can house about 440,000 migrant workers will be regulated under a single law from April 1 next year. The move is to help the authorities contain disease outbreaks more quickly and potentially improve living standards within such facilities. The Foreign Employee Dormitories Act (Feda) will be extended to cover smaller dormitories with seven beds or more. It currently applies only to 53 larger dorms that accommodate 1,000 or more workers. The move could also pave the way for improved living standards to be implemented across existing dorms, both large and small.

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