Singapore Isolates Fifth Foreign Worker Dorm as Virus Cases Jump

Niluksi Koswanage

(Bloomberg) -- Singapore’s government placed a fifth foreign worker dormitory under isolation in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the city-state that has recorded its highest daily increase in cases this week.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong declared a foreign worker housing facility in east Singapore as an isolation area, according to a government gazette issued late Thursday. Singapore started placing some of these dorms under 14-day quarantines from Sunday as these low-wage laborers are making up a large part of new cases.

The country reported its highest daily increase of infections Thursday with more than 200 of the 287 new cases linked to foreign worker dormitories. This group, who mainly work in construction and live in often-cramped housing facilities, now make up about a quarter of Singapore’s over 1,900 cases.

The government has said that screening measures will be applied across 43 such housing facilities in the country. Plans are under way to reduce the number of workers living in dormitories by moving them to re-purposed convention centers, hotels, military camps and vacant public housing flats.

Foreign workers in the construction sector stand at 284,300 people according to June 2019 data published by the manpower ministry. That accounts for nearly 5% of Singapore’s population of 5.7 million.

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