Singapore puts in more measures to control COVID-19 spread among foreign workers

By Gurdip Singh

Singapore, May 1 () The Singapore government is setting up on-site community care facilities in the most affected dormitories for COVID-19 positive migrant workers who are clinically well or display mild symptoms, health authorities said on Friday.

Patients will be moved to the Community Care Facilities (CCFs), set up by the Inter-agency Task Force, immediately after diagnosis instead of waiting to be transferred to an off-site medical facility, they said.

Off-site CCFs are set up in locations such as D'Resort, a local holiday complex, as well as Singapore Expo and Changi Exhibition Centre.Advertisement

The mega exposition sites are being readied to accommodate foreign workers who have been moved out of COVID-19 infested dormitories.

On-site Community Recovery Facilities (CRFs) will similarly be set up to look after patients who are no longer infectious and are transferred out of the CCFs.

"After the workers recover, our aim is to help them stay healthy and enable them to work when their employers resume business," said the task force, which is in charge of handling the COVID-19 outbreak in dormitories.
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Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said that many of the measures put in place have shown some progress.

"The number of new cases in the community has come down. However, the number of new infections in our dormitories remains a challenge," Channel News Asia quoted Gan as saying.Some of the recovered workers will return to their disinfected dormitories, and the task force will designate specific Blocks for Recovered Workers (BRWs) within these dormitories to house the workers.Advertisement

Within the BRWs, workers must observe enhanced safe distancing measures, and inter-mingling with residents of other blocks will be strictly prohibited.

Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said this phase of taking care of the foreign workers as they recover will be an "enormous challenge".

"Many workers will be rehoused, and they will have to get used to new friends. Many employers will have to adjust to their workers being in different locations with new arrangements.Advertisement

"We will have to develop new strategies to monitor the health of the workers. This is a very important aspect of the recovery phase," Teo was quoted as saying.

"And it's critical that we get this phase done well, so that work and business can resume safely," she said.

For dormitories that are less affected, the task force will adopt a combination of approaches including aggressive swabbing to contain the infection and isolation strategies.Advertisement

To better support the healthcare needs of workers at Factory-Converted Dormitories, the task force provides additional medical posts at foreign workers' Recreation Centres.

These medical posts serve a combined catchment of 760 Factory-Converted Dormitories housing about 65,000 workers. They are managed by private healthcare groups, such as Raffles Medical Group, ParkwayHealth and AcuMed Medical Group.

The task force also gave an update on the provision of meals to 43 purpose-built dormitories. More than 10 million meals have been served, with special meal runs for residents observing Ramadan.Advertisement

About 300 employers indicated that they owed salaries to their workers, according to media reports.

The Manpower Ministry is actively tracking and engaging these employers to ensure that they eventually make payments to the workers.Seven employers are reportedly in financial difficulties and may not be able to pay their workers. For such cases, the Migrant Workers' Assistance Fund will step in to provide relief.Advertisement

The task force also facilitated access to remittance services, both physical and digital, so that workers can continue to remit money back to their families.

Meanwhile, the authorities extended the stay-home period of foreign workers, including Indians, in the construction sector by two weeks until May 18 as the COVID-19 infections among the community continue to rise. The total number of cases in the country has reached 17,101, the health ministry said. GS CPS
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