Singapore confirms new COVID-19 cases in migrant workers dorms


Singapore reported a record 1,426 new coronavirus cases on Monday, with 1,369 of these among foreign workers, pushing its total number of confirmed infections to 8,014.

The city state now has the highest number of cases in Southeast Asia, a massive increase from just 200 infections on March 15, when its outbreak appeared to be nearly under control. About 3,000 cases have been reported in just the past three days.

Low-wage migrant workers, a vital part of Singapore’s workforce, now account for 76% of its infections, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said late on Monday.

“The main increase today continues to be for work permit holders residing in dormitories, where we are picking up many more cases because of extensive testing,” said the ministry. “These are not new infections as the workers are staying in their rooms and many have not reported sick. But when the teams go in to test them, many turn out to be positive.”

Most of them have a mild illness and are being monitored in community isolation facilities or general wards. None are in the intensive care unit, MOH said.

The number of new cases among work permit holders living outside the dormitories has continued to increase, with 32 such cases reported. These cases have gone up from an average of 13 cases per day in the week before, to an average of 24 per day in the past week, said MOH.

There were also 18 infections among Singaporean citizens and permanent residents, and no imported cases or deaths reported on Monday. A total of 801 people have fully recovered.

“The number of new cases in the community has decreased, from an average of 39 cases per day in the week before, to an average of 29 per day in the past week. The number of unlinked cases in the community has remained relatively constant, with an average of 20 cases per day for the past two weeks,” the ministry said.

“We will continue to closely monitor these numbers, as well as the cases detected through our surveillance programme,” the statement read.

The increase in cases among foreign workers comes after authorities started carrying out extensive testing.

More than 200,000 workers from Bangladesh, India and other poorer Asian countries live in tightly packed dormitories. Clusters of infections have expanded rapidly in the dorms after they were overlooked in the government’s earlier health measures.

Singapore is now the worst-hit country in Southeast Asia, surpassing figures in Indonesia and the Philippines. (Source: CNA)