As of Monday (3 August), approximately 273,000 migrant workers staying in dormitories have recovered or tested negative for COVID-19. This number of workers comprises about 89 per cent of them in Singapore.
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) had also released a press statement on Tuesday (4 August), announcing that 127 more dormitories were cleared of the coronavirus.
In the statement, the dormitories included 114 Factory-Converted Dormitories and 13 Construction Temporary Quarters. It further revealed that 35 Blocks for Recovered Workers (BRWs) and 12 Purpose-Built Dormitories (PBDs) had also been cleared.
The 35 BRWs cleared yesterday were:
- Jurong Penjuru 1
- Homestay Lodge
- PPT Lodge 1A
- Alaunia Lodge
Having about 273,000 workers cleared of the virus, there are still more than 28,000 of them who are still in various quarantine facilities, as reported by the Straits Times on 25 July.
Following an employer’s concern where her migrant workers had gone from COVID-19 negative to positive for sharing the same dormitory room, she pointed out that MOM did not immediately transfer infected workers to the isolation area.
This incident occurred on 24 July, and in that incident, many who were tested negative for the coronavirus since March, were tested positive.
The employer stressed that the workers would be allowed to return to work in July if they follow the safety measures and remain uninfected. However, workers who were tested negative were infected subsequently, resulting in a delay in their resumption of work.
According to the Straits Times, Education Minister Lawrence Wong, who is also coordinating Singapore’s response to COVID-19, said on 24 July that all migrant worker dormitories are expected to be cleared of the coronavirus by the first week of August. These dormitories will exclude the ones that are being used as special quarantine facilities.
Mr Wong who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force expressed that it had been a “challenging and tough” journey in clearing the migrant workers in the dormitories, adding that the operation is reaching its “last stretch”.
“It has been a challenging and tough journey for everyone involved in clearing the migrant workers in the dormitories… We are finally reaching the last stretch.”
“We will be working very closely with all the companies who are engaging these workers to allow them to start work and to allow work to resume as soon as possible.”
While the employers resume waiting for the approval of their migrant workers to be released from the dormitories to go back to work, they were still paying for their workers’ levies, salaries and accommodation fees.
Since the MOM stated that all dormitories were set to be cleared by the first week of August, there were 560 dormitories listed on the Ministry website that are yet to be declared “COVID-cleared”.
Is it possible that all 560 dormitories can be cleared of COVID-19 by 7 August as it is only a day away?
Considering that employers were initially informed that the operation would be done by the second half of July, the focus of this issue should be about the delay of dormitory clearance instead of the growing number of dorms that were cleared of COVID-19.