Coronavirus: Foreign workers to be housed in floating accommodation barges from next week

One of the floating accommodation facilities that will be used to house healthy foreign workers. PHOTO: MPA
Workers have already started moving into army camps and Changi Exhibition Centre. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - Healthy foreign workers will be temporarily housed in two floating accommodation facilities from next week in a bid to contain the coronavirus spread.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said on Saturday (April 11) that it is working with terminal operator PSA Singapore, Keppel Offshore & Marine, Bibby Maritime and The Ascott Limited to manage the two facilities.

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force tackling the outbreak, had said on Thursday that healthy foreign workers will be moved from dormitories to other sites, such as floating hotels, to prevent them from being infected by workers with the coronavirus.

Workers have already started moving into army camps.

A Keppel Offshore and Marine spokesman said the firm and its associate company, Floatel SE, are working to deploy a floating accommodation vessel that had been used off the coast of Western Australia.

It was built in 2016 and has about 300 rooms.

Chief executive officer of The Ascott Limited Kevin Goh, who is also CEO of lodging at parent company CapitaLand Group, said the firm has swiftly put together a team, and worked out the logistics and IT requirements to ensure living conditions aboard the floating accommodations are conducive for the workers staying there.

He added that all the necessary precautionary measures such as safe distancing, intensified cleaning and disinfection, will be in place for the well-being of the workers throughout the entire duration of their stay.

"All foreign workers will have to go through the necessary health checks, including swab tests, before boarding the floating accommodations. They will also have to follow strict public health measures, such as minimising interaction with other occupants," said an MPA statement.

Essential needs such as meal delivery will be taken care of and a medical facility manned by nurses and doctors from Fullerton Healthcare will be set up on land nearby. Isolation facilities will also be established and other provided if needed, the MPA added.

Foreign worker dormitories have been a growing concern amid the outbreak, with about 200,000 workers living in 43 dorms.

Five dormitories have been gazetted as isolation areas with Covid-19 cases at such sites continuing to rise rapidly.

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