Singapore worker dormitories again hit by new wave of virus clusters


Foreign workers wind down after work as they enjoy their packeted dinner and chit chat in their shared room, with their clothes hung all around on makeshift clothes lines, at their construction-site dormitories near Punngol in Singapore.The republic has again reported a sharp increase of coronavirus infections in foreign-worker dormitories as it seeks to tamp down rising case numbers island-wide that have pushed deaths from the pandemic to a record level. - The Straits Times/ANN

SINGAPORE, Oct 2 (Bloomberg): Singapore again reported a sharp increase of coronavirus infections in foreign-worker dormitories as it seeks to tamp down rising case numbers island-wide that have pushed deaths from the pandemic to a record level.

The city-state’s Ministry of Health said that eight people had died on Friday (Oct 1) from Covid-19, matching Wednesday’s toll -- the highest daily fatality rate since the pandemic began.

The mounting death count and worsening caseload are likely to test the government’s resolve to reopen Singapore.

Ministry figures show that new infections among foreign workers almost doubled to 818 on Friday from a day earlier, with eight clusters reported at dormitories housing workers from overseas.

New infections rose to more than 2,900, a record, and officials issued urgent appeals for vulnerable residents to stay at home. The Environment Ministry on Friday called on people older than 60 and those who live with them to avoid dining at the country’s popular food courts.

Curbs reintroduced this week already limit the number of people at restaurants to two per table.

The worsening situation in the dormitories is likely to raise questions about a pilot program that started last month which allowed foreign workers to leave their residences, but only to visit specific locations and limited to six hours a day.

Most workers have largely been confined to their quarters since the dormitories were identified as the epicentre of an outbreak last year.

The quarantining of more worker and strict border restrictions preventing from entering the country will worsen an acute labour shortage in sectors including construction, which largely depends on manpower from abroad.

While cabinet ministers have committed to "living with the virus” in Singapore, where four of every five residents are fully vaccinated, the worsening situation may challenge this assertion.

The health ministry published a map Friday detailing areas frequently visited by infected patients in the last three days to guide people’s social activities and allay their concerns.

Singapore’s healthcare situation remains stable, with more than 98% of the 31,057 people diagnosed with Covid-19 in the past 28 days having mild or no symptoms.

Thirty-four patients are in critical condition in the intensive care unit, and 222 need oxygen supplementation, according to government data. Most of them are over the age of 60. - Bloomberg

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