Singapore's largest dormitory with 16,000 workers cleared of coronavirus

Sungei Tengah Lodge, one of the biggest clusters, among 69 more dorms declared virus-free

Sungei Tengah Lodge in Old Choa Chu Kang Road was on April 9 gazetted as an isolation area to curb the spread of the virus. ST FILE PHOTO
Sungei Tengah Lodge in Old Choa Chu Kang Road was on April 9 gazetted as an isolation area to curb the spread of the virus. ST FILE PHOTO

Singapore's biggest dormitory for migrant workers has been declared free of the coronavirus after it had recorded one of the earliest and largest clusters among dorms.

Sungei Tengah Lodge was one of 69 more dorms of various types cleared by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) as of yesterday, bringing the total number cleared to 891.

Around 247,000 workers either have recovered or were tested to be free of the virus - more than 75 per cent of the 323,000 people residing in dorms.

Some cleared workers are waiting to be moved to appropriate accommodation before they can resume work, the MOM said.

Others will be able to start work once mandatory processes to minimise the risk of new infections have been put in place.

Sungei Tengah Lodge in Old Choa Chu Kang Road was on April 9 gazetted as an isolation area to curb the spread of the virus.

Before the cluster there was closed last Saturday, it had 2,203 confirmed cases, making it one of the largest clusters.

The dorm was designed to house up to 25,000 workers in its 10 blocks but now has about 16,000 residing there. All these workers can return to their jobs immediately if their employers have received official approval.

Three of the 69 more dorms cleared as of yesterday were purpose-built dorms (PBDs), 59 were factory-converted facilities and seven were temporary quarters on construction sites.

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Sungei Tengah Lodge was one of the first dormitories hit by Covid-19. In April, it was gazetted as an isolation area and its 23,000 occupants were quarantined in their rooms. After two months of testing Sungei Tengah Lodge was clear of Covid-19.

Additionally, 41 more blocks for housing recovered workers in 11 PBDs were cleared. These included fully clearing the remaining blocks in Tampines Dormitory, Cochrane Lodge 1 and 2, Changi Lodge 2 and Sungei Tengah Lodge.

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The inter-agency task force to address Covid-19 in the dorms is also progressively carrying out "additional decontamination measures" to let more recovered workers from blocks and dorms yet to be cleared to resume work safely and without compromising public health.

Employers will be able to check details of their workers' status through the Safe @ Work eService on the MOM website.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 22, 2020, with the headline Singapore's largest dormitory with 16,000 workers cleared of coronavirus. Subscribe