Coronavirus: Floating facilities ready to house healthy foreign workers

A three-bed room. Meals can be delivered to the cabins to minimise inter-mingling. Two floating accommodation facilities in a restricted area at Tanjong Pagar Terminal yesterday. Each facility can take a few hundred people and be organised to achieve
Two floating accommodation facilities in a restricted area at Tanjong Pagar Terminal yesterday. Each facility can take a few hundred people and be organised to achieve safe distancing, amid concerns over coronavirus clusters in foreign worker dormitories. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG
A three-bed room. Meals can be delivered to the cabins to minimise inter-mingling. Two floating accommodation facilities in a restricted area at Tanjong Pagar Terminal yesterday. Each facility can take a few hundred people and be organised to achieve
A three-bed room. Meals can be delivered to the cabins to minimise inter-mingling. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG
From left: The medical centre, sick bay and isolation room on the floating accommodation facility. Workers have to go through health checks before boarding.
The medical centre (above), sick bay and isolation room on the floating accommodation facility. Workers have to go through health checks before boarding. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG
A three-bed room. Meals can be delivered to the cabins to minimise inter-mingling. Two floating accommodation facilities in a restricted area at Tanjong Pagar Terminal yesterday. Each facility can take a few hundred people and be organised to achieve
The medical centre, sick bay (above) and isolation room on the floating accommodation facility. Workers have to go through health checks before boarding. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG
A three-bed room. Meals can be delivered to the cabins to minimise inter-mingling. Two floating accommodation facilities in a restricted area at Tanjong Pagar Terminal yesterday. Each facility can take a few hundred people and be organised to achieve
The medical centre, sick bay and isolation room (above) on the floating accommodation facility. Workers have to go through health checks before boarding.
ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Two floating accommodation facilities parked in a restricted area at Tanjong Pagar Terminal will house healthy foreign workers from this week.

Each can take a few hundred people, and be organised to achieve safe distancing, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said after a visit to one of the facilities yesterday.

Meals can be prepared off-site and delivered to the cabins to minimise inter-mingling, he added in a Facebook post.

He said coronavirus clusters in foreign worker dormitories are a grave concern, and efforts are being made to reduce the density within each dormitory.

"In China, transmission within families has been shown to be a major driver. Each dorm is practically a huge family unit, hence our concern," said Mr Khaw, who is also Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure.

While building new dormitories will take time, making use of such floating accommodation facilities - typically used by those in offshore and marine industries - was another solution, he said.

Workers can have fresh air at the open-air deck where they can exercise an hour a day, Mr Khaw added in his post.

There is also a medical facility that can attend to workers who are ill.

They have to go through health checks, including swab tests for Covid-19, before boarding the facility. They also have to follow public health measures such as minimising interaction with other occupants.

Last Thursday, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force tackling the outbreak, said during a media conference that the number of workers in each dormitory needs to be reduced so that effective public health measures can be put in place.

Foreign worker dormitories have been a growing source of concern in the outbreak. More than 10 have been found to be clusters so far.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 13, 2020, with the headline Coronavirus: Floating facilities ready to house healthy foreign workers. Subscribe