3-pronged strategy to stop spread of virus in dormitories
Minister outlines measures being taken to minimise virus spread in facilities
A three-pronged strategy has been adopted to arrest the spread of coronavirus in foreign worker dormitories, said Manpower Minister Josephine Teo yesterday.
This includes preventing clusters from forming in non- infected dormitories, as well as moving essential workers out of factory-converted dormitories, so isolation facilities can be created with this vacated space, she said.
Speaking at a multi-ministry press conference, Mrs Teo said that the "immediate priority" was for the workers in the dormitories to stay healthy and to minimise the number that become infected.
Dormitories for workers have become an increasing concern, with at least 15 clusters in these sites so far. There are 43 purpose-built dormitories in Singapore that together house about 200,000 workers.
Mrs Teo said that dormitories where there are already clusters have been locked down, so there will be no more movement in or out of them.
Workers must stay in their rooms as much as possible and minimise interactions with others. Meals are being provided, and communal toilets will have scheduled staggered shower times.
Second, even dormitories that have no clusters - which make up 29 out of the 43 purpose-built and almost all factory-converted dorms - are also "effectively" on lockdown, said Mrs Teo.
Third, workers in purpose-built dormitories who are working in essential services, numbering 7,000, are being moved out to other premises, after first being screened to make sure they do not have symptoms.
They will be required to implement strict safety distancing while at the workplace or travelling to and from work, and also wear a mask at all times.
"And like all Singaporeans, they will be required to remain in their residences after work. We hold the employers of these essential workers responsible and we look to them to do their utmost to keep their workers safe, even as they go about their duties," said Mrs Teo.
To implement this strategy effectively, Fast ( forward assurance and support) teams deployed to all dormitories, medical support teams, and dormitory operators and employers will have to play their part, said Mrs Teo.
Each Fast team comprises nine officers. They are formed by Singapore Armed Forces or police officers and personnel from the Ministry of Manpower.
Meanwhile, most of the foreign workers in essential services living in purpose-built dormitories have been moved out into 18 alternative living areas such as military camps, floating hotels, sports halls and vacant HDB blocks.
This move is to minimise disruption to essential services, alleviate the load on public health facilities and minimise the risk of these healthy workers getting infected, said the inter-agency task force handling the coronavirus outbreak in foreign worker dormitories.