There are more than 26,000 recorded cases of Covid-19 cases in Singapore. The vast majority are migrant workers who live in crowded dormitories. As was reported previously on this platform (see 22 April update on Singapore), there are 43 migrant worker dormitories in Singapore, which house around more than 200,000 male workers holding a work permit (with no permanent residency). In total there are an estimated 1.4 million migrant workers in the country. Each dorm houses about 10 to 20 residents, who share toilet and shower facilities, eat in common areas and sleep just feet away from each other. In this context, it is impossible to conduct social distancing.
On 14 April 2020, the government placed all migrant worker quarters in quarantine and moved those who tested positive or showed symptoms out of the dorms for treatment. Around 7,000 workers were also moved into alternative accommodation such as military camps, floating hotels and vacant government apartments.
- J. Yeung & I. Yee, “Tens of Thousands of Singapore’s Migrant Workers are Infected. The Rest are Stuck in Their Dorms as the Country Opens Up,” CNN, 15 May 2020, https://edition.cnn.com/2020/05/14/asia/singapore-migrant-worker-coronavirus-intl-hnk/index.html
- A Migrant Dormitory Seen from Far, (Roslan Rahman, AFP, Getty Images, “Singapore’s Migrant Workers are Suffering the Brunt of the Country’s Coronavirus Outbreak,” CNN, 25 April 2020, https://edition.cnn.com/2020/04/24/asia/singapore-coronavirus-foreign-workers-intl-hnk/index.html)