Coronavirus cases in Singapore cross 36,000-mark

By Gurdip Singh

Singapore, Jun 3 () Coronavirus cases in Singapore crossed the 36,000-mark on Wednesday as 569 new cases, mostly foreign workers living in dormitories, were confirmed, a day after low-risk businesses resumed operations with the end of the two-month long "circuit-breaker" period.

The new cases bring the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country to 36,405.

Of the 569 new cases, only seven cases were in the community, the Health Ministry said. Of these, one is a Singapore citizen or permanent resident (foreigner) while six are foreigners holding work passes. Advertisement

The rest of infectious cases were foreigners working here and living in cramped dormitories.

With the vast majority of COVID-19 cases stemming from foreign worker dormitories, calls have been made to improve their living conditions.

On Monday, the government announced its intent to develop new foreign worker dormitories, and refit unused state properties as part of plans to reduce the current density in the dormitories.
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Meanwhile, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Wednesday said over the last three years, foreign worker dormitory operators have flouted dormitory management rules about 80 times a year, the Channel News Asia reported.

About 60 per cent of these breaches were for "minor lapses", such as failing to maintain tidiness and cleanliness in one part of the dormitory, said the Ministry. These breaches were found during inspections of dormitories licensed under the Foreign Employees Dormitory Act (FEDA). Advertisement

Last month, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo revealed in parliament that about 20 operators are penalised every year under the Act. This accounts for nearly half of the 43 FEDA-licensed foreign worker dormitories in Singapore, the daily reported.

According to the Act, dormitory operators who flout the regulations can be fined up to SGD 50,000, jailed for up to a year, or both.

Dormitories housing foreign workers were the most common places, declared clusters, for the spread of coronavirus disease. Advertisement

More than 300,000 foreign workers live in various types of dormitories across Singapore, from large purpose-built dormitories to smaller factory-converted dormitories and makeshift living quarters near their worksites.

On Tuesday, businesses that operate in settings with lower transmission risks were allowed to reopen, as the city-state entered its first phase of reopening after the "circuit breaker" period.

Pre-schools and early intervention centres also reopened for children in Kindergarten, with children in nursery level, infant care and playgroup to follow next week. Advertisement

Some places of worship were also allowed to restart some services, such as marriage solemnisations and funerals, subject to a cap of 10 attendees. Phase 2 of the reopening could start before the end of June if the number of COVID-19 transmissions in the community remains low and stable. GS PMS PMS
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