Coronavirus pandemic

All worker dorms expected to be cleared of Covid-19 by Aug 7

Nearly all migrant workers expected to be cleared by early Aug, aside from 28,000 in quarantine facilities

More than 80 per cent of the 323,000 workers staying in dormitories have either recovered or tested negative for the coronavirus so far, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong.
More than 80 per cent of the 323,000 workers staying in dormitories have either recovered or tested negative for the coronavirus so far, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

All migrant worker dormitories are expected to be cleared of Covid-19 by Aug 7 except for 17 standalone blocks in purpose-built facilities, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong.

These blocks will serve as temporary quarantine facilities for workers still serving out their isolation period.

Mr Wong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force combating the Covid-19 outbreak, said yesterday: "It has been a challenging and tough journey for everyone involved in clearing the migrant workers in the dormitories... We are finally reaching the last stretch."

This means that almost all migrant workers will be cleared of the virus by early next month, aside from 28,000 who are still in the various quarantine facilities.

Workers who complete their isolation period will have to take an additional Covid-19 test. Those who test negative can resume work if their employers meet safety requirements.

"We will be working very closely with all the companies who are engaging these workers to allow them to start work and to allow work to resume as soon as possible," noted Mr Wong, who also thanked those on the front line involved in the clearing operation. "Contractors must also take all the measures seriously... just because the workers are cleared doesn't mean that they can resume activities as before."

The Government is also working with contractors on housing arrangements for workers, such as moving them to alternative accommodation facilities like quick-build dormitories.

Mr Wong noted that easily more than 80 per cent of the 323,000 workers staying in dormitories have either recovered or tested negative for the coronavirus so far.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, who also co-chairs the task force, said the authorities will continue to keep a close eye on the construction industry in particular.

"We do expect to see from time to time Covid-19 cases among the construction industry... so we need to watch carefully to make sure that there are no big clusters," he said.

Mr Wong reiterated that migrant workers will continue to be tested regularly: "If we detect... any positive case, we will have to go in quickly, again do our usual operations, ring-fence the area, stop work even, and then do a sweep, aggressive testing around all the close contacts."

He said contractors should ensure safe management measures are in place to reduce the risk once work resumes, given that an infection could lead to all work stopping again.

 
 
 
 

The Health Ministry (MOH) said it expects the daily number of Covid-19 cases to remain high for the coming two weeks before tapering down. Singapore is reporting about 200 to 300 new cases daily.

MOH medical services director Kenneth Mak said: "The numbers might in fact also increase compared to what it was over the last few days.

"And this is just because we are now testing a lot more aggressively in the remaining dormitories, with a view towards clearing the remaining workers who are there."

Mr Wong said the number of daily cases will go down around mid-August after the clearing of dorms. But he warned that the fight was far from over: "I must again remind everyone, just because the case count comes down, that shouldn't be a reason for us to go out to celebrate and have a big party."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 25, 2020, with the headline 'All worker dorms expected to be cleared of Covid-19 by Aug 7'. Subscribe