In a BBC report yesterday (22 Apr), it said that Singapore was once hailed as the “gold standard approach” in fighting the COVID-19 virus, but its reputation now “tarnished” because of infections spreading amongst
the migrant workers in cramped worker dormitories.
Some of the cramped quarters are crowded with as many as 20 men to a room, BBC reported. “They are Singapore’s army of low paid migrant workers mainly from South Asia and now account for close to 80 percent of this city’s infections,” it said.
Total infections have now exceeded 10,000.
One worker whose roommate was tested positive for the coronavirus, told BBC, “We’re all living in fear. We don’t know if we have it or not. He was right next to us in the next bed. I heard the two other people were found to
be positive in the next room. We’re all staying together and no one has done anything about it. We’re all at risk.”
When asked what could have been done earlier, the worker replied, “You should have isolated us. It is necessary and it could have done it sooner.”
Even though the government is now providing medical help to migrant workers who are infected, as well as meals to those quarantined, critics said this could have all been avoided if the Singapore officials have acted earlier.
BBC then highlighted what Manpower Minister Josephine Teo has to say.
“There are in Southeast Asia alone about 10 million migrant workers. A fraction of them in Singapore. We’re not perfect but we do what we can,” she said.
“Yes, we took some safe distancing measures within the dormitories and if we were to be able to rewind the clock, one could say that these safe distancing measures needed to go much further.”
BBC commented that the poor living condition in worker dormitories is a systemic problem that won’t change until the entire system does.
“The pandemic has brought to the surface the flaws in Singapore’s society and it was the failure to address these cracks that now threatens even their best laid plan,” said BBC.