Covid-19 in the Dormitories
On 6 April, the government gazetted 2 foreign worker dormitories as “isolation areas” to quarantine about 20,000 foreign workers. This is after 2 large clusters were found at the S11 Dormitory in Punggol and Westlite Toh Guan dormitory.
I am worried about the breakout of Covid19 in workers dorms. In congested living quarters, the spread can spike very quickly. 12-20 men are housed closely in each room. Workers share toilets and eating areas.
How will they break the chain of infection if they cannot practice social distancing and observe Covid-fighting hygiene habits like frequent hand washing?
Dormitory infection must be managed swiftly. As a doctor, I would suggest this:
(1) Test all workers in these dorms.
(2) Separate the sick from the rest. Isolate Covid positive cases in the dormitory for observation, medical checks and refer to hospital if necessary. We know that the virus can survive for quite some time on surfaces, so these dormitories will also need to be specially disinfected.
(3) Send those tested negative to another holding location. This is to cut the chain of infection and give them peace of mind. In addition to the Singapore Expo, use our sports stadiums and erect temporary living quarters on the open fields. There are reasonable washing facilities at these stadiums. With increased space, they can also practice social distancing and good hygiene like hand washing. During this period, let them observe a form of Stay Home Notice in our stadiums. Stand -alone stadiums are isolated from other people and it is a cleaner way to monitor movements and control the spread.
I am suggesting this because we must look after these 20,000 foreign workers and assure them that Singapore can look after them. It is the decent thing to do.
Furthermore, another dormitory, Toh Guan Dormitory, has also been declared an isolation area. Let’s act quickly and decisively to stop the disease from spreading amongst them. We must do what is right.