Earlier today (17 April), Singapore Tourism Board released a press statement announcing that the Singaporean government will assess two cruise ships to be utilised as temporary accommodation for foreign workers in the nation.
In the statement, it was reported that the Government is studying the feasibility of using the SuperStar Gemini and SuperStar Aquarius — two mid-sized cruise ships — to cater to foreign workers who had “recovered” from COVID-19 and the ones who tested negative for the coronavirus.
“The government is studying the feasibility of using the SuperStar Gemini and the SuperStar Aquarius, two mid-sized cruise ships, as temporary accommodation for foreign workers who have recovered from COVID-19 and tested negative for the virus,” wrote Singapore Tourism Board.
It was explained that this possible move was planned to further manage the transmission of COVID-19, as well as to allow health measures to be implemented more effectively in existing dormitories by reducing the number of workers there.
The statement also added that, if this plan is deemed feasible, these two cruise ships may be used to complement other interim facilities such as Singapore Armed Forces military camps and vacant HDB blocks.
The SuperStar Gemini had arrived from Hong Kong on 17 April and it is currently berthed at Marina Bay Cruise Centre Singapore. The ship will undergo a thorough assessment to determine its suitability as temporary accommodation for the foreign workers.
The SuperStar Aquarius may be activated for assessment at a later date.
“The assessment will be done with the support of the ship’s operator, Genting Cruise Lines, and will consider, among other areas, the ship’s ventilation systems, security protocols and infection control measures. It will only be used to house foreign workers if it passes the assessment.”
Cruise ships are being considered to hold the foreign workers as they have readily available rooms and en-suite toilets to minimise person-to-person contact.
If the assessment for both ships passes, they may accommodate up to 2,000 foreign workers and will be activated only if there is a need to supplement other temporary accommodation facilities.
The statement added that every effort will be made to uphold the health, welfare and security of foreign workers on board of the ship. And the foreign workers will be expected to comply with safe distancing measures at all times on the ship.
It was also reported that the foreign workers will also be allowed scheduled outdoor time on the ship. They will also be provided with SIM cards and WiFi broadband for wireless surfing.
“If activated, every effort will be made to uphold the health, welfare and security of foreign workers on board the ship, where they will be expected to observe the highest standards of safe distancing at all times. They will also be allowed scheduled outdoor time on board and provided with SIM cards and Wifi broadband for wireless surfing,” as reported in the statement.
So far, to qualify the foreign workers to enter the cruise ships, there are no other details or health criteria other than “recovered” and “tested negative”. Given that the median incubation period of COVID-19 is 5.1 days according to a new study conducted by John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the research paper stated that the 14-day quarantine period is a reasonable amount of time for the symptoms to show.
John Hopkins’ analysis had also suggested that 97.5 per cent of people who develop symptoms of COVID-19 will do so within 11.5 days of exposure.
The researchers estimated that for every 10,000 individuals quarantined for 14 days, about 101 of them would develop symptoms after being released from quarantine.
Since there is still uncertainty in regards to the incubation period of COVID-19, it definitely raises concerns as to how confident the authorities are to guarantee that there will be no additional outbreak on the cruise ships.