SINGAPORE: The cleanliness and sanitation at four of the foreign worker dormitories that have been gazetted as isolation areas has “vastly improved”, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Friday (Apr 10). 

In a media release, MOM said “enhanced measures and cleaning routines” had been put in place at the S11 Dormitory @ Punggol, Westlite Toh Guan Dormitory, Toh Guan Dormitory and Sungei Tengah Lodge.

At these isolation areas, workers are quarantined in their rooms for a two-week period as part of efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19. They also receive onsite medical support and enhanced health screening.

COVID-19 infections have spiked in foreign worker dormitories recently, with cases linked to 10 such dormitories across the island. Out of Singapore’s 2,108 COVID-19 cases, more than 500 cases are linked to dormitories.

Photos and videos circulating on social media earlier this week appeared to show crowded and unsanitary conditions at the S11 Dormitory @ Punggol –  currently the largest coronavirus cluster in Singapore, with 306 cases. 

READ: COVID-19: Crowding, emotional health of migrant workers at dormitories concern employers

READ: ‘Dedicated strategy’ to break COVID-19 spread in dormitories, including housing healthy workers in army camps

Rubbish chutes at the Westlite Toh Guan Dormitory being washed on Apr 10, 2020 (Photo: Ministry of Manpower)

MOM said it had instituted “enhanced waste management and sanitation regimes” at the four isolation areas. 

“The frequency of refuse collection and removal from the premises for disposal have been increased from once a day to three to five times daily, depending on the premises,” said the ministry. 

It noted that disinfection and cleaning of common areas and washroom facilities are also being carried out an average of thrice a day at the four isolation areas. 

These measures will also be introduced at the Tampines Dormitory – where are there currently 49 COVID-19 cases – which was also gazetted as the fifth such isolation area on Friday. 

MOM also noted that dormitory operators had been working with external vendors as well as in-house cleaners to improve the cleanliness and sanitation in the dorms. 

The measures taken include increasing the rounds of cleaning at the dormitories up to five times a day and getting additional to clean frequently used areas such as toilets and corridors. 

External vendors have also been engaged to clear rubbish at the isolation areas, as well as increasing the frequency of disinfecting from twice to four times daily.  

READ: Singapore is paying ‘close attention’ to welfare of foreign workers amid COVID-19 outbreak: PM Lee

Toh Guan disinfecting toilets

A worker disinfects a toilet at Toh Guan dormitory, Apr 10, 2020. (Photo: Ministry of Manpower)

“MOM officers have been working round the clock at the dormitories gazetted as isolation areas to ensure the foreign workers’ well-being is taken care of and the living conditions are of the highest standards,” said the ministry. 

It added it would act on feedback provided by dormitory residents to determine possible areas of improvements. 

In a video posted on his Facebook page on Friday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Singapore was paying “close attention” to the welfare of foreign workers, amid the COVID-19 outbreak. “They came to Singapore to work hard for a living, and provide for their families back home … We will do our best to take care of their health, livelihood and welfare here, and to let them go home, safe and sound,” he said.

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