Coronavirus: Cruise ships assessed for feasibility to temporarily house healthy foreign workers

SuperStar Gemini (pictured) and SuperStar Aquarius will be checked for factors such as ventilation systems and infection control measures. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - Cruise ships are being assessed for their feasibility as temporary housing for foreign workers who have recovered from Covid-19 and tested negative for the virus.

SuperStar Gemini and SuperStar Aquarius, mid-sized cruise ships operated by Genting Cruise Lines, will be checked for consideration by the Government for factors such as ventilation systems, security protocols and infection control measures.

If deemed feasible, the two cruise ships may be used to complement other interim facilities such as Singapore Armed Forces military camps and vacant Housing Board blocks that have been refurbished to house healthy workers.

By reducing numbers of workers in existing dormitories, health measures can be implemented more effectively, said the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) in a media statement on Friday (April 17) morning.

Cruise ships are being considered for use as temporary housing, as they have readily available rooms and en-suite toilets to minimise person-to-person contact, added the STB.

SuperStar Gemini, which arrived from Hong Kong on Friday, is berthed at Marina Bay Cruise Centre Singapore. SuperStar Aquarius may be activated for assessment at a later date.

If deemed suitable, the two ships may accommodate up to 2,000 foreign workers in total.

The STB said: "If activated, every effort will be made to uphold the health, welfare and security of foreign workers on board the ship, where they will be expected to observe the highest standards of safe distancing at all times."

Foreign workers would also be allowed scheduled outdoor time on the vessels and would be provided with wireless Internet access.

While the spread of the coronavirus in the wider community has held steady over the past two weeks, the number of cases linked to foreign workers in dormitories has risen exponentially.

As of Friday morning, the total number of foreign workers linked to dorms who have tested positive for Covid-19 is 2,689, which is about 60 per cent of all Singapore's cases.

There are now a total of 12 dormitories declared as isolation areas where workers at these lodgings must be quarantined in their rooms for 14 days.

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