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Conditions continue to improve at S11, Westlite and Toh Guan dormitories hit by COVID-19: MOM

Conditions continue to improve at S11, Westlite and Toh Guan dormitories hit by COVID-19: MOM

Foreign workers having their meals in their rooms at Toh Guan dormitory, which is under isolation. (Photo: Ministry of Manpower)

SINGAPORE: The conditions at three dormitories gazetted as isolation areas amid the COVID-19 outbreak have “continued to improve”, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Wednesday (Apr 8). 

S11 Dormitory @ Punggol, Westlite Toh Guan Dormitory and Toh Guan Dormitory are among the worst hit by the virus. 

With 118 cases so far, S11 Dormitory is the largest cluster in Singapore. 

Westlite Toh Guan Dormitory has a total of 38 confirmed cases as of Wednesday, while 23 cases have been linked to Toh Guan Dormitory. 

READ: Singapore sees record spike of 142 new COVID-19 cases; 20 linked to largest cluster at S11 dormitory

There are thousands of foreign workers living at the dormitories. Their declaration as isolation areas under the Infectious Diseases Act means all workers at the three dormitories have been placed under quarantine. They will have to stay in their rooms for 14 days.

It was reported earlier that nearly 20,000 workers at S11 Dormitory @ Punggol and Westlite Toh Guan have been placed under quarantine.

Toh Guan Dormitory houses around 4,500 foreign workers, the Ministry of Manpower told CNA.

MOM had announced on Tuesday that teams from an inter-agency task force have been deployed to the three dormitories to support operators in implementing safe distancing measures, the distribution of meals and the maintenance of cleanliness.

The bin area at S11 Dormitory @ Punggol. (Photo: MOM)

This was after photos and videos circulated online, appearing to show crowded and unsanitary conditions at S11 Dormitory.

On Wednesday, MOM said the task force has “further streamlined mealtime routines and stepped up on the upkeep of cleanliness”.

A resident use his mobile phone at Westlite Toh Guan dormitory. (Photo: Try Sutrisno Foo)

Multiple caterers have been engaged to ensure timeliness and the quality of meals distributed," said MOM, adding that almost 233,000 portions of meals and snacks have been distributed to residents so far.

“Meal distribution routines have improved significantly over the past three days. On average, every meal distribution exercise is now completed within two hours, across all three dormitories,” MOM said.

Portions were also increased based on feedback from residents, and the ministry said the foreign workers have given feedback that there was "better variety of food" compared with previous days.

Residents receiving fruit for dinner at Toh Guan Dormitory. (Photo: MOM)
A meal that was distributed at Toh Guan Dormitory. (Photo: MOM)

READ: Inter-agency task force to help migrant workers living in dorms affected by COVID-19

Waste management and hygiene conditions have also improved, said the ministry.

“To cope with the increased usage of washroom facilities and higher volumes of trash generated, dormitory operators continued to step up on waste management and sanitation regimes," said MOM.

“The enhanced measures at S11 and Westlite are also being implemented at Toh Guan Dormitory progressively.”

The disinfection and cleaning of the common areas and washroom facilities are being carried out three times per day, MOM added.

"MOM officers on the ground will continue to ensure that the highest standards are upheld. Our officers will also act on feedback provided by dormitory residents on possible areas of improvement."

The rubbish chute area at S11 Dormitory @ Punggol. (Photo: MOM)
Safe distancing practised at Toh Guan Dormitory on Apr 6. The dorm was declared an isolation area that night. (Photo: Try Sutrisno Foo) ​​​​​​​

READ: MOM says working to improve conditions for S11 Dormitory, Westlite Toh Guan residents

SATISFACTORY CONDITIONS AT WESTLITE, SAYS ONE RESIDENT

One of the dorms, Westlite, said on Wednesday it is “actively managing” the COVID-19 situation at its premises, and has “firmly established procedures” to handle the situation.

Since the venue was gazetted as an isolation area on Apr 5, Westlite said it has mobilised additional manpower to ensure its residents are looked after and to step up hygiene and sanitation.

It added that residents have been encouraged to clean their rooms more thoroughly and more frequently. According to the operator, the rooms at Westlite Toh Guan are en-suite apartments with their own toilet, shower, kitchen and dining areas. Residents only share the amenities with those staying in the same apartment.

A foreign worker stands along the corridor of Westlite Toh Guan dormitory in Singapore on Apr 6, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

It added the dormitory also has enough supplies of personal protective equipment like face masks, as well as on-site medical stations to treat any resident feeling unwell. 

If they are suspected to have the novel coronavirus, they will be sent to designated medical facilities off-site for testing, Westlite said.

The CEO of Centurion Corporation, the company Westlite is under, said that this period has been “challenging” for everyone, but that the dormitory has “made every effort” to ensure residents are well taken care of.

“We have done our utmost to deliver on all fronts on isolation, hygiene and communication procedures from the outset of this COVID-19 outbreak,” Mr Kong Chee Min said.

“We are grateful that our residents have been calm, cooperative and understanding of our initiatives amid these difficult times.”

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Source: CNA/aa(gs)

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