Seeing the soaring number of COVID-19 cases in just a few days, a Chinese worker who is currently being quarantined at one of the isolated dormitories – S11 Dormitory @Punggol expressed feeling of anxiety and depression but understand that they need to be strong in confronting the deteriorating situation.
“Even though we are wearing the face mask, we also worried about the phenomenon of asymptomatic. If those with asymptomatic are already infected but still staying together with us, the virus will continue spreading across the dormitories, consequently it will emerge a biggest cluster,” said the Chinese worker in a video posted by Singapore Eye.
The worker is a Chinese man from Shandong Province, China who came to Singapore since 2007 and has since worked at construction site in Singapore.
According to the dormitories’ regulation, anyone whose temperature is higher than 37.5 Celsius is only allowed to seek for treatment, otherwise, anyone should not move around unnecessarily, says the worker.
With that being said, he expressed his discontent over this regulation and hoped it can be improved so that anyone with fever can see a doctor while noting that the authorities should also make efforts to prevent asymptomatic spread.
Isolated worker describes living conditions in dormitory
The worker said he did not know that the dormitory will be isolated until he received a phone call during work on 5 April.
“The next day, the announcement that was broadcasted in the dormitories said everyone have to stay in the dormitory and not allowed to go out. We haven’t been out of the dormitory since then,” the worker said.
He said, “We are not allowed to leave the room or visit other dorms. Even if we just stand outside for a while, we will be asked by the police to go back to the room.”
He described how they would spend their whole day in the room, sleeping and eating, and continue to sleep after they consume the meals provided by the dormitories.
Speaking on the condition of dormitory, the worker said the dormitory was disordered and chaotic with poor hygiene and bad food quality during the first few days of isolation.
He said, “The overall hygiene condition of shower rooms which attached with toilet was satisfactory as it is cleaned daily,” noting the condition has been improved afterwards.
Noting that his dormitory room had housed 12 people initially, but now it has been reduced to 11 people as one worker had left the dorm due to dengue fever infection, according to the worker.
As part of precautions, each worker is given one reusable face mask, two surgical masks and a thermometer. However, he noted that there are still many workers who have not received the face mask since after the distribution of two surgical masks.
Money is not our main priority now, what we need is to be healthy and safe from this pandemic, says the worker.
At the same time, he also noted that the workers cannot gain access to donations of supplies from outside the dormitories.
“They (donors) contacted us and expressed their willingness to donate supplies but all the supplies have been rejected when it comes to the door. We needed those supplies, but we have no solution for that because we are not allowed to go out at this moment,” he said.
Touching on the recent news of Ministry of Manpower’s latest advisory for the employer to assist migrant workers in remitting salaries to overseas bank accounts, the worker said he is not totally sure whether they will receive the salary from employer.
“We are not saying that we need this money “urgently” and “eagerly”. Instead, we hoped that we can pull through this pandemic safely. Money is not our main priority now, as what we need is to be healthy and safe from this pandemic,” he added.
COVID-19 cluster emerge in foreign workers dormitories
On 5 April, Ministry of Health has declared the S11 Dormitory @ Punggol, with 13,000 resident workers and Westlite Toh Guan dormitory, with 6,800 resident workers as isolation areas after the surging number of COVID-19 cases in the said foreign workers dormitories.
As of today, total of 12 foreign workers dormitories with cluster emerging have been gazetted as isolation areas.
While Singapore recorded its highest single-day spike of 728 confirmed infected cases on Thursday (16 April), bringing the total infection cases over the 4,000-mark.
Of the 728 new cases, migrant workers living in dorms made up 654, which is almost 90 percent, of these cases.
Although the virus spread in the wider community has been steady over the last two weeks, but the number of cases linked to migrant workers living in dorms have increased rapidly over the same period.
In total, 2,689 cases reported were among foreign workers staying in dorms, making it 60 percent of the overall cases in Singapore.