Covid-19: Singapore to build more dorms, aims to reduce density

The vast majority of new cases are work permit holders residing in the foreign worker dormitories. — TODAY pic
The vast majority of new cases are work permit holders residing in the foreign worker dormitories. — TODAY pic

SINGAPORE, June 1 — Singapore will embark on a major building programme for new foreign worker dormitories that will see 60,000 bed spaces ready by end of this year, according to the republic’s National Development Minister Lawrence Wong.

“Our aim is to reduce the density of the dormitories, but also importantly to design new dormitories in a way that will be more resilient to public health risk particularly to the risk of pandemics as we learn from the Covid-19 experience,” he said during a virtual press conference on Covid-19 today.

At the moment, Singapore is using sites like army camps and sports halls, as well as some vacant HDB flats to decant workers to these sites in order to reduce the density of these dormitories.

Wong who is also the Co-Chair of The Multi-Ministry Taskforce on Covid-19 said these are temporary solutions because eventually these sites would have to be returned to their original uses, thus, a more sustainable solution is needed for new dormitory solutions.

In the longer term, Wong said, the republic planned to build 11 new permanent purpose-built dormitories within the next two years with about 100,000 additional spaces with new designs, new standards.

Meanwhile, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said by today, around 40,000 migrant workers would have been cleared of Covid-19 infections and will be ready to get back to work.

In giving the composition, Teo said about 12,000 of them are essential workers who have already moved out of the dormitories into other short-term accommodation while more than 20,000 workers have recovered and have been re-housed at various temporary sites.

“Another 8,000 are workers living in all the dormitories,” said Teo at the same press conference.

Teo said these 8,000 workers have either tested negative or were tested positive but have fully recovered and discharged, and are living with fellow workers who have also been cleared of the virus in the dormitories.

At the same time, Teo said the first batch of 60 dormitories will be given “cleared” status from tomorrow (June 2) meaning every block in the dormitory has been cleared and every resident in those blocks have been cleared of the infections.

There are 43 purpose-built dormitories that house about 200,000 foreign workers and 1,200-odd factory-converted dormitories for about 95,000 workers. — Bernama

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