COVERING THE PANDEMIC

World News Day: Long, arduous journey to clear migrant worker dorms in Singapore of coronavirus

A worker throwing the trash at Tuas View Dormitory last month. All migrant worker dormitories were declared to be clear of Covid-19 on Aug 20, including standalone blocks in purpose-built dormitories that served as isolation or quarantine facilities.
A worker throwing the trash at Tuas View Dormitory last month. All migrant worker dormitories were declared to be clear of Covid-19 on Aug 20, including standalone blocks in purpose-built dormitories that served as isolation or quarantine facilities.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

On Aug 7, Singapore finished testing all 323,000 migrant workers staying in dormitories for Covid-19. And the tally as at Aug 3 had shown that some nine in 10 of these workers - or 273,000 - had recovered or had been tested to be free of Covid-19.

The journey to a stage where the dorms were declared clear of Covid-19 and the industries they were in could resume work took four long and arduous months.

Many measures were implemented, and updated, to meet a fast-evolving situation.

The Straits Times has been covering this crucial issue that has become a defining factor in the Republic's efforts to contain the outbreak.

We tracked the workers' living conditions, their hospitalisation and isolation, the meals they were served and the impact on their families, often in other countries.

All dormitories were declared to be clear of Covid-19 on Aug 20, including standalone blocks in purpose-built dormitories that served as isolation or quarantine facilities.

Around 333,000 foreign workers in the construction, marine and process sectors, or 86 per cent of them, were allowed to resume work.

Singapore remains alert. The Ministry of Manpower said it has adopted a multi-layered strategy to prevent a second wave of infections in the cleared dormitories.

This includes grouping migrant workers in dormitories by the type of industry they are in and implementing safe distancing measures.

Once a new case is detected, contact tracing efforts would begin, officials said.

 
 
 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 28, 2020, with the headline 'Long, arduous journey to clear migrant worker dorms of virus'. Print Edition | Subscribe