SINGAPORE – The number is staggering – over 10 million meals.
That’s the number of meals the government will have served by this weekend to foreign workers who are under stay orders in dormitories here. The orders are to curb the COVID-19 outbreak among foreign workers in Singapore, as these workers living in dorms continue to account for the majority of new cases daily. Currently, there are 25 dorms that have been gazetted as isolation areas.
As it is the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, special meal runs have been arranged, and the workers are allowed to make online orders to the supermarkets located within some of the dorm premises.
At a virtual media briefing on Friday (1 May), Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Manpower, Aubeck Kam said that the quality of the meals has improved. “Every meal that we serve, we have managed to improve the meal timings so that the food gets to the residents on time. We’ve seen more positive feedback on the quality of the food, the quantity of the food and overall satisfaction.”
Besides meals, some 270,000 data SIM cards have been distributed, in addition to the free Wifi access available at the dorms. Workers also have access to Tamil and Hindi movie channels for free.
The government has partnered with more than 10 non-governmental organisations and community groups to reach out to over 20,000 workers daily. “We have distributed more than 410,000 care packs to the foreign workers,” Kam said. These care packages contain, among others, thermometers and hand sanitisers.
Some 2,900 personnel are working on the ground to assist with the distribution and other tasks.
All 43 purpose-built dorms have medical facilities already while those for non-purpose built dorms have been enhanced to provide similar support. There are currently two medical posts serving these dorms, with two more in the pipeline.
“We also have 12 mobile medical teams... medical support is also provided by 100 public health preparedness clinics as well as our polyclinics,” Kam said, adding that in total, 10,000 essential workers have been moved into alternative accommodations.
Most COVID-19 cases linked to dorms
The Ministry of Health reported a preliminary 932 new COVID-19 cases in Singapore as of Friday (1 May) noon, bringing the total to 17,101.
The vast majority of the new cases in recent weeks have been foreign workers living in dorms.
More than 50 clusters linked to such dorms have been identified thus far, including Singapore’s largest cluster linked to S11 Dormitory@Punggol, followed by Tuas View Dormitory and Sungei Tengah Lodge.
Some 300,000 foreign workers live in dorms here in Singapore.
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