In light of the COVID-19 outbreak in Singapore that severely impacted the migrant workers, an update about them had been requested for in Parliament today (4 June).
Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad had reported that more than 32,000 healthy migrant workers moved into temporary accommodations in sports halls, vacant Housing Board blocks, as well as army camps provided by the Government.
This move was prompted to cease the spread of COVID-19 within their dormitories since their initial living conditions forced them to live in cramped rooms.
Manpower Minister Josephine Teo earlier revealed that there are more than 300,000 migrant workers staying at dormitories across Singapore. These housing facilities include 43 purpose-built dormitories, factory-converted dormitories and temporary quarters at construction sites. A total of 25 foreign worker dormitories have now been gazetted as isolation areas.
Mr Zaqy revealed that the migrant workers who require medical care would be sent to medical posts, clinics or hospitals in the vicinity.
For the workers who were being tested for COVID-19, they would be allocated in a swab isolation facility until their test results were available. If any of them was tested positive for the coronavirus, they would be transferred to the “appropriate care facility”.
“If they are tested positive for COVID-19, (then) they will be transferred to the appropriate care facility,” he told Parliament.
Following Mr Zaqy’s announcement, Member of Parliament (MP) for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC Christopher De Souza asked if isolation, quarantine and care arrangements would be available for the migrant workers who had already moved into the temporary accommodations.
Mr Zaqy expressed that the workers who were tested COVID-19 positive would be taken care of and that all of them in the dormitories would be provided with medical attention.
“Regardless of where infected workers are housed, all migrant workers living in dormitories have access to medical care and attention.”
He went on to mention that approximately half of the 30,000 infected migrant workers living in dormitories had recovered as of the end of May. Besides, the rest of the infected workers are also recovering well, and one of them is under intensive care.
On the other hand, Workers’ Party NCMP Dennis Tan Lip Fong asked the Manpower Ministry whether the migrant workers who were returning from overseas, as well as the migrant workers who were served with stay-home notices, would be required to stay in quarantine facilities since February.
Mr Tan also asked if the migrant workers managed to complete their stay-home notices, leave of absence, or quarantine orders in their dormitory rooms.
To answer Mr Tan’s questions, Mr Zaqy responded that the Ministry had informed the licensed dormitories to reserve isolation facilities since 29 January. He noted that checks had been conducted to ensure compliance.
“For dormitories with limited transmission, close contacts of infected workers continue to be sent to government quarantine facilities or community care facilities in centralised locations.”
He also mentioned that spaces within dormitories were “reconfigured” to shelter the migrant workers who are suspected or confirmed with COVID-19. This move was meant to separate them from other workers.
“Spaces within (other) dormitories were reconfigured to house workers suspected or confirmed to be infected, separately from others. This may or may not have been in the workers’ original (dorm) rooms.”