Singapore to turn away workers from India after record caseload

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (right) gestures while talking with Asean Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi, as he attends the Asean leaders' summit at the the Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean) secretariat building in Jakarta, on Saturday, April 24, 2021. - Reuters

SINGAPORE, April 24 (dpa): Singapore has announced that it would deny entry to long-term work visa holders from India, hours after New Delhi reported over 3000,000 new cases of the coronavirus over the last few days, the most any country has confirmed in one day.

"We have to do this for public health reasons," said newly appointed Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, who heads the government's pandemic taskforce.

Thousands of Indians work in wealthy city-state Singapore, in sectors such as construction that have been hard hit by pandemic-related curbs.

Announcing the ban, which includes anyone who was in India during the past 14 days, Wong said said earlier on Thuirsday (April 22) "we recognise that this will have a major impact on our construction, marine and process sectors."

Development Minister Desmond Lee warned that "the progress of construction projects may slow down and firms may face challenges meeting deadlines."

Most of Singapore's approximately 60,000 virus cases were reported last year among young male migrants from neighboring countries, leading to severe slowdowns in sectors that rely on foreign workers.

Even Singapore's record gross domestic product fall of 5.4 per cent last year paled compared to the construction sector's 35.9 per cent contraction. - dpa
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