SINGAPORE: An inter-agency task force will help migrant workers staying at three dormitories affected by the COVID-19 outbreak as "circuit breaker" measures kick in, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said in a news release on Tuesday (Apr 7).
With restrictions in place to contain the spread of COVID-19, foreign workers will not be able to go to work from now until the end of the "circuit breaker" period on May 4.
During this time, MOM will assist dormitory operators and ensure the residents at S11 Dormitory @ Punggol and Westlite Toh Guan Dormitory get a timely supply of catered meals and that the premises are kept clean. A similar team has also been deployed to Toh Guan Dormitory.
All three dormitories have been gazetted as isolation areas following a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in several foreign worker dormitories across Singapore.
Among the agencies involved include the Ministry of Health (MOH), National Environment Agency, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and the Migrant Workers’ Centre.
“The task force will progressively deploy inter-agency teams to the rest of the dormitories to support their operators as they implement the 'circuit breaker' measures,” MOM said.
IMPROVING HYGIENE CONDITIONS AT DORMITORIES
The support for S11 Dormitory and Westlite Toh Guan has included meal arrangements, cleanliness maintenance, care packs and on-site medical facilities.
Multiple professional caterers have been engaged to provide meals to foreign workers, MOM said, adding nearly 160,000 portions of meals and snacks have been delivered.
“After some initial hitches, dormitory residents have now been able to receive their meals in a timely and orderly fashion," MOM said.
“Meals are delivered by the caterers and distributed to resident workers in batches to ensure freshness." Meal times will also be staggered.
In terms of cleanliness, MOM will continue to work with the dormitory operators to ensure the premises like rooms and common areas are disinfected, and sanitation activities are done regularly.
Earlier this week, photos and videos circulating online appeared to show crowded and unsanitary conditions at the S11 Dormitory, and an ambulance and medical personnel at Westlite Toh Guan after they were announced as isolation areas.
MOM said on Monday authorities were working hard to ensure the well-being of affected workers at the two dormitories. The situation at both dorms had “stabilised", the Migrant Workers’ Centre added on Tuesday.
“Both dormitory operators continued to ramp up cleaning routines, and cope with the increased usage of washroom facilities and the higher volumes of trash generated, as resident workers now spend the entire day in the premises,” MOM said.
The operators also stepped up their waste management and sanitation regimes.
“The hygiene conditions at the two dormitories have improved from the previous days."
Care packs and on-site medical facilities were also made available for residents.
All 20,000 resident workers in S11 Dormitory and Westlite Toh Guan have received care packs consisting of masks, thermometers and hand sanitisers, MOH said. Residents from Toh Guan Dormitory will soon get similar packs.
Teams at the dormitories will also work with operators to ensure residents monitor their temperatures twice daily and use masks outside their rooms.
Basic medical facilities have been set up at S11 Dormitory and Westlite Toh Guan to take care of the health of the residents as well. Those who become unwell will be relocated and housed separately to prevent further spread of the virus.
SAF, POLICE GET INVOLVED
To help the manpower and health ministries, 70 personnel from SAF's Army Medical Services were deployed on Tuesday to provide basic health screening and consultation services to the foreign workers, the Ministry of Defence said in a Facebook post.
Similarly, the SPF have also stepped in to help.
“The police officers are deployed at the dormitories as part of MOM-led inter-agency teams to provide the residents and dormitory operators with support during this 'circuit breaker' period when the residents are expected to remain in the dormitories,” SPF said.
“The conditions at the two dormitories gazetted as isolation areas continued to improve as dedicated multi-agency teams worked round-the-clock,” MOH said, but urged community efforts.
“MOM will continue to keep a close eye on the dormitory conditions and will intervene proactively to ensure standards.
“Our officers will also follow up on feedback from the residents, and work with dormitory operators on improvements,” it said.
But dormitory residents have a role to play too by maintaining cleanliness and cooperating in the execution of measures, MOM added.