Beds set aside for foreign workers with Covid-19, over 97% of dormitory residents fully vaccinated

There are some 6,000 beds in dormitory recovery facilities spread across 48 dormitories.
There are some 6,000 beds in dormitory recovery facilities spread across 48 dormitories.ST PHOTO: WALLACE WOON

SINGAPORE - More than 5,000 beds have been set aside for foreign workers to recover from Covid-19 in centralised facilities that are typically located in larger dormitories, since the start of October.

There are also some 6,000 beds in dormitory recovery facilities spread across 48 dormitories.

Updates on efforts to protect the well-being of migrant workers were shared by Manpower Minister Tan See Leng and Senior Minister of State for Manpower Koh Poh Koon in Facebook posts on Thursday (Oct 21).

The updates come as migrant worker dorms have been experiencing a spike in cases, in tandem with the rest of the community, since September.

How Covid-19 cases are managed in dorms came under the spotlight last week, when foreign workers residing in the Westlite Jalan Tukang dormitory alleged poor living conditions and a lack of timely access to medical help.

The authorities said these issues have since been addressed.

The beds in the recovery facilities are for fully vaccinated workers with no or mild symptoms.

They have access to primary care services on-site and in regional medical centres, as well as telemedicine. Wi-Fi connection and board games are available, while some facilities have minimarts.

Dr Koh said more than 7,900 workers have recovered in the centralised facilities and returned to their dorms. Most turned the corner by their seventh day in the facility.

Dr Tan said transiting to new healthcare protocols and ensuring that workers, employers and dormitory operators adhere to them is "an ongoing and massive operation".

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) announced on Oct 2 that Covid-19 measures for migrant workers living in dormitories have been revised to focus on those with symptoms and need medical care.

"As with any operation on such a scale, our teams on the ground encountered transitional issues last week, which have understandably caused concern and confusion for the workers. Our officers have been working very hard and round the clock to stabilise the situation since," he added.

Efforts include the Assurance, Care and Engagement group - an MOM division - stepping up interactions with workers by getting feedback from them.

The group is working with facility operators to address workers' concerns.

It handed out materials such as infographics and videos informing workers of the care they will receive at the recovery facilities. These materials were translated into their native languages.

Dr Tan revealed that more than 97 per cent of foreign workers in dormitories have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

However, there are still a few thousand workers who have not been inoculated under Singapore's national programme.

"These would include those who may have been vaccinated overseas, but have not verified their vaccination in Singapore," he said.

Workers who have been inoculated abroad are advised to visit a healthcare provider to undergo a serology test and register their vaccination records here.

Dr Tan assured migrant workers that they will have access to medical care and support.

He said: "There may be spikes in cases, and we will refine our strategies accordingly should there be lapses. I also seek the support of our stakeholders, such as dormitory operators and employers, to play their part in ensuring the well-being of our migrant workers."

Plans are under way to revamp "the way we deliver primary care for migrant workers".

"An integrated primary healthcare ecosystem, which delivers a comprehensive suite of services across six geographical locations, is in the works. I will share more details when ready," Dr Tan added.