Coronavirus: MOM to improve quality of meals for foreign workers under quarantine

Fruits being distributed to foreign workers under quarantine at Toh Guan Dormitory. The Manpower Ministry said it has taken into account the workers' feedback and increased their meal portions.
Fruits being distributed to foreign workers under quarantine at Toh Guan Dormitory. The Manpower Ministry said it has taken into account the workers' feedback and increased their meal portions.PHOTO: MOM

The Manpower Ministry (MOM) is working with caterers to improve the quality of meals provided to quarantined foreign workers as it continues efforts to improve the conditions at the three dormitories which have been designated as isolation areas.

MOM said yesterday it has been working with multiple caterers to ensure timeliness and quality of meals distributed to the almost 25,000 workers housed in the three affected dorms - S11 Dormitory @ Punggol, Westlite in Toh Guan and Toh Guan Dormitory.

Foreign workers' dorms have become a growing area of concern amid the coronavirus pandemic that has seen these densely populated residences become major infection clusters.

S11 Dormitory @ Punggol and Westlite in Toh Guan were gazetted as isolation areas on Sunday, and Toh Guan Dormitory was gazetted on Monday. This means workers who reside in these dorms will be quarantined in their rooms for 14 days.

MOM has been distributing food to the quarantined workers, and said it has taken into account their feedback and increased the meal portions.

It noted that caterers have delivered 233,000 portions of meals and snacks, and will continue to make adjustments to the menus to suit the residents' dietary preferences.

"Meal distribution routines have improved significantly over the past three days. On average, every meal distribution exercise is now completed within two hours, across all three dormitories," said MOM.

The Straits Times had earlier reported on Monday about the crowded and unsanitary conditions at the S11 site, where workers said rooms were infested with cockroaches, rubbish was piling up and toilets were overflowing.

MOM also said conditions at the three dormitories continue to be improved.

It has also formed an inter-agency task force which helps to take care of the well-being of the foreign workers residing in the three dormitories.

"To cope with the increased usage of washroom facilities and higher volumes of trash generated, dormitory operators continued to step up on waste management and sanitation regimes. This has resulted in improved hygiene conditions," said the ministry, adding that these enhanced measures are being carried out at all three gazetted dorms.

Its officers on the ground will continue to ensure that the highest standards are upheld and also act on feedback given by dormitory residents on possible areas of improvement, added MOM.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of National Development (MND) said some 21 vacant Housing Board blocks in Bukit Merah are being refurbished to house healthy foreign workers working in essential services. The workers will start to progressively move into the three-room flats as the works are completed in the coming weeks.

In response to queries from The Straits Times yesterday, MND said the affected blocks had earlier come under the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme, which buys back from residents public housing sitting on land with high redevelopment potential for other purposes. The flats were vacated in 2018.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 09, 2020, with the headline 'MOM to improve quality of meals for foreign workers under quarantine'. Print Edition | Subscribe