SINGAPORE: Operators of workers' dormitories have been required to adopt additional measures to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission since Wednesday (Apr 1), said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).
These measures include no inter-mixing of workers between dormitory blocks, with workers "strongly advised" to stay in their rooms and minimise physical interactions, said MOM in an email to operators seen by CNA.
This follows stricter safe distancing measures announced by the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Mar 24, and MOM's updating of its advisory on safe distancing measures at workplaces, the ministry said.
Where workers are out of their rooms, dormitory operators should put in place safe distancing measures such as ensuring workers maintain a 1m spacing in areas within dormitory premises as well as clearly marking out queue lines at turnstile entry and exit points, spaced at least 1m apart, said MOM.
At dining areas, seats must be spaced at least 1m apart and clearly marked, with workers advised not to share food.
Operators will need to check that workers comply and MOM will take "enforcement action" against dormitory operators who do not implement safe distancing measures, it said.
MOM had on Feb 10 issued an updated advisory on enhanced precautionary measures in dormitories such as the suspension of all mass activities as well as the staggering of the usage of common dormitory facilities.
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Two new clusters involving workers' dormitories were identified in the past week - the S11 Dormitory @ Punggol (2 Seletar North Link) and Westlite Toh Guan dormitory (18 Toh Guan Road East).
All close contacts of the confirmed cases at S11 Dormitory @ Punggol have been quarantined as a precautionary measure, with contact tracing in progress for the cases at Westlite Toh Guan Dormitory, said MOM.
The dormitory operators have also been instructed to put in place additional measures until Apr 12. These include monitoring the health status of residents in the affected blocks before entering and leaving the dormitory, as well as ensuring residents in unaffected blocks do not enter the ones affected.
In response to queries from CNA, non-governmental organisation Migrant Workers' Centre (MWC) said that it has been working with the Dormitory Association of Singapore Limited (DASL) and unions such as Building Construction and Timber Industries Employees' Union to engage migrant workers at dormitories in order to raise awareness on COVID-19.
"We are also working with DASL to produce advisory posters in the workers’ native languages, sharing more on the precautionary measures and advisories from the various agencies," said MWC executive director Bernard Menon.
"This is meant as an educational piece with additional measures taken by the operators to reassure the residents of their safety in the dormitories."
Along with their partners, MWC will continue to give help to workers who may be in need during the current COVID-19 outbreak, added Mr Menon.
"We will continue to work closely with the relevant authorities and DASL to do contingency planning so that we will be able to manage any spikes in the number of migrant worker COVID cases that may come up along the way," he said.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this article used a photograph of Toh Guan Dormitory. The dormitory has not been affected by COVID-19. The image has been replaced.