And while measures have been in place to curb the spread of the highly deadly and infectious virus, we are still getting hundreds of COVID-19 cases each day.
It is to the point where dormitories now have fewer occupants than migrant workers housed in temporary accommodation.
Fewer Occupants & Isolation Areas
According to the Manpower and National Development ministries, there has been a 25% decrease in occupancy. Purpose-built dorms are the largest sites for housing migrant workers, and they used to hold 212,000 workers in April. Now, they only house 160,000 workers.
And of course, the reason for this is that over the last few months, many workers have moved out of their dormitories to other accommodation like new temporary living quarters or government temporary sites so that the relevant authorities can monitor their health.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) also revealed that as of 19 July, 71 blocks from 14 dorms out of 176 blocks in 25 dorms are no longer considered to be isolation areas. This is a 40% drop in the number of isolation areas.
MOH also shared that only recovered individuals and those who have recently been confirmed to not be infected are staying in the degazetted dormitory blocks.
If you’ve downloaded our app (which you really should), you’d know that Education Minister Lawrence Wong (still can’t get used to it, isn’t it?), who co-chairs the multi-ministry COVID-19 task-force, said that all dormitory blocks are expected to be cleared of COVID-19 by 7 August, except for 17 blocks.
Why 17 blocks?
Well, these 17 blocks which are in purpose-built dorms will be used as temporary quarantine facilities to house about 28,000 workers who are still serving their isolation period.
Safety Measures To Curb Spread
Seeing as to how the number of COVID-19 cases amongst dormitory workers is the highest in Singapore so far, there have been various measures implemented to ensure that the spread is contained and it doesn’t spread to the community.
Migrant workers are not allowed to move around freely or mingle with those staying in blocks that have been marked out as isolation areas.
MOH also said that only the workers staying in selected blocks are given the approval to go to work.
They have to report their health status every day and stagger the timings that they use common facilities. They also have to reduce their interactions with those living in different blocks.
MOH said, “We will continue to evaluate the situation in the dormitories, and more blocks will be progressively removed from this list of (gazetted dorms) to house more recovered foreign workers and those tested negative in the coming weeks.”
Workers who have finished serving their isolation period would have to take another COVID-19 test just to ensure that they are completely cleared.
If they test negative and their employers meet the safety requirements, they will then be allowed to go back to work.
Other than the above measures, MOM has also enforced certain rules to further reduce the chances of new confirmed cases.
Dorm operators are required to coordinate with the employers of the workers and stagger the pick-up and drop-off timings for the workers.
Employers must then confirm or update the residential addresses of the workers on the MOM database.
The migrant workers are also required to have the TraceTogether app downloaded onto their phones so that contact tracing can be done whenever necessary.
Please do note that we, too, should have the TraceTogether app on our phone so that the relevant authorities can conduct contact tracing easily. If you’ve not downloaded it because you’re worried about privacy, watch this video (and subscribe to our YouTube channel, please?):
For migrant workers, they also need to download the FWMOMCare app to update their health status and residence. These details must be the same as what their employer and dormitory operator input.
Dormitory operators are expected to enforce safe distancing measures as well as ensure that their workers wear masks.
With all these measures in place, hopefully it will be true that most blocks will be cleared of COVID-19 by 7 August, and we can finally see this headline:
“0 COVID-19 Cases Today (8 Aug); Cats Have Been Spotted Wearing Masks, Too”