Coronavirus: 1,300 foreign workers move into SAF camps for circuit breaker period

A foreign worker is checked in by an SAF officer before moving into accommodation at an SAF camp.
A foreign worker is checked in by an SAF officer before moving into accommodation at an SAF camp. PHOTO: MINDEF

SINGAPORE - About 1,300 foreign workers are moving temporarily into two Singapore Armed Forces camps this week, as part of the national effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

A Facebook post by the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) on Thursday (April 9) said the SAF had been preparing to house the workers at Bedok Camp II and Jurong Camp II during the month-long circuit breaker period, after the Ministry of National Development requested urgent housing facilities for them.

These unused premises are not required for any operational activities of the SAF and are physically separated from other SAF facilities, according to the post.

An accompanying video in the Mindef Facebook post showed uniformed servicemen giving directions to foreign workers, as the latter brought their luggage into camp and prepared their bunk beds.

It was mentioned in the video that the workers will be required to follow strict health safety measures during their stay, including twice-daily temperature checks, staggered mealtimes and safe distancing.

They will also go through medical checks to ensure they are well and not displaying fever or respiratory symptoms.

Foreign worker dormitories have been a growing concern during the coronavirus outbreak, with the number of confirmed cases linked to places such as S11 @ Punggol and Westlite Toh Guan Dormitory swelling in the past few days.

At a press conference on Thursday, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said that effective public health measures need to be in place in order to manage the Covid-19 situation in foreign worker dormitories.

These include active screening for cases, deploying medical posts in dormitories, and separating those who test positive for the virus from those who are healthy.

 
 
 
 

To accomplish this, the number of workers in each dormitory needs to be reduced, and alternative accommodation has been arranged for those that are well, especially those working in essential services, said Mr Wong.

These sites include floating hotels, the Changi Exhibition Centre and military camps.

As of Thursday, a total of 1,910 cases have been confirmed in Singapore.

The authorities announced tightened measures last week, taking effect on Tuesday and lasting until May 4.

Most workplaces shut down, except for those in key economic sectors and essential services.

People have been advised to stay home, not hold any social gatherings, and only go out for essential activities like buying food during the circuit breaker period.