Coronavirus: Foreign workers to be temporarily housed in two floating facilities

Foreign workers will go through health checks before boarding the floating accommodation facilities, which are being prepared to ensure living conditions aboard are conducive and essential needs are taken care of.
Foreign workers will go through health checks before boarding the floating accommodation facilities, which are being prepared to ensure living conditions aboard are conducive and essential needs are taken care of.PHOTO: MPA

Foreign workers will be temporarily housed in two floating accommodation facilities from this week in a bid to contain the coronavirus spread.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said yesterday 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, said last 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 & 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.

The Ascott Limited chief executive officer 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 that living conditions aboard the floating accommodation are conducive for the workers staying there.

He added that 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.

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

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 others provided if needed, MPA added.

The Housing Board said yesterday that some healthy migrant workers will be housed by contractors at unused void decks and multi-storey carparks at different sites where projects are under construction. It described these places as "completed structures that are safe and liveable".

All the premises are checked to ensure that living conditions are airy and comfortable, and equipped with toilets, charging points and Wi-Fi connection. The workers will be staying within the site and only designated workers are allowed to leave the site to buy essentials from nearby grocery stores.

Foreign worker dormitories have been a growing concern, 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.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 12, 2020, with the headline 'Foreign workers to be temporarily housed in two floating facilities'. Print Edition | Subscribe