Singapore plans to improve worker dormitories after Covid-19 outbreak

Migrant workers along the corridor of Woodlands Lodge 1, April 30, 2020. — TODAY file pic
Migrant workers along the corridor of Woodlands Lodge 1, April 30, 2020. — TODAY file pic

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SINGAPORE, Sept 17 — Singapore announced today new standards for migrant worker dormitories, with the aim of reducing the risk of transmission of infectious diseases and improving living conditions after the facilities suffered a major Covid-19 outbreak last year.

The outbreak threw a spotlight on the often-cramped and unsanitary conditions in the dormitories that house tens of thousands of low-wage labourers from countries such as Bangladesh, India and China.

The new standards include capping occupancy, en-suite toilets, better ventilation and the segmentation of communal facilities, the manpower ministry said on Friday. Residents will also have more spacious rooms and in-room Wi-Fi coverage.

While the requirements apply to new facilities, authorities are also reviewing how to improve existing dormitories. The government also plans to build two new dormitories with at least 12,500 beds combined, which will be ready in about three years.

Singapore sealed off the sprawling housing blocks for several months last year to ring-fence the surge in Covid-19 cases in the dormitories.

Even this year when the rest of Singapore returned to some semblance of normal life, foreign workers have mostly been confined to their living quarters, other than for work, nearby recreation or essential errands.

This week Singapore started a pilot programme to ease some movement measures. — Reuters

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