20,000 workers may be discharged by June as dorm outbreaks continue

Medical personnel check dorm residents in an April photo. Photo: Lawrence Wong/Facebook
Medical personnel check dorm residents in an April photo. Photo: Lawrence Wong/Facebook

Around 20,000 migrant workers could be discharged from treatment by the end of May, over a month after the outbreaks in worker housing were first reported.

Infected by the thousands as the virus ravaged worker dormitories – where it continues to spread – workers placed in various facilities who have recovered and “are no longer infectious” will return to the dorms or other accommodations, the COVID-19 task force said yesterday

The had been treated at various hospitals and temporary isolation facilities opened at venues such as Singapore Expo and the Changi Exhibition Centre.

The task force aims to put them back to work after the “circuit breaker” measures expire June 1 and plans to test all 300,000-plus migrant workers to make sure that they are free of COVID-19. 

Meanwhile, hundreds of new cases in those dorms are being announced daily, something National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the task force, said yesterday is likely to continue. 

“The daily infection numbers from workers in the dormitories have moderated, but they are still high, and will remain so for some time,” he wrote online. “That’s because we are testing all the workers, even the ones who are well, and discovering many ‘hidden’ cases. This comprehensive testing regime is necessary so that we can clear the dormitories systematically, and ensure the health and well-being of the workers.”

<Controlling the Outbreak; Preparing for Next Phase>

We are making progress in controlling the outbreak in the…

Posted by Lawrence Wong on Tuesday, 12 May 2020

A total of 22,334 dorm residents were known to have contracted COVID-19 as of yesterday, the vast majority of Singapore’s nearly 25,000 known cases. Of those, 1,735 have already been discharged. A handful have died due to causes not attributed to the coronavirus. 

No worker deaths have been directly attributed to the coronavirus. Workers did account for seven of nine people whose deaths were not attributed to the virus.

To date, more than 32,000 migrant workers who live in the dormitories have been tested. 

Wong also noted a decline in “imported” cases and those outside the worker community. He said that if that trend continues, the task force may consider easing some measures after June 1. But if it does not improve, the measures could stay longer. 

“We will look at the evidence over the coming days and assess the situation carefully. If there are still risks, then we may have to hold back on allowing such family visits for a while more, and continue to maintain the current restrictions and safeguards even after 1 June,” he said.

“It will not be an easy decision to make, but I hope Singaporeans understand that our primary aim is to protect our seniors and to save lives,” he added.

Singapore has logged 24,671 cases since the outbreak began in January, with 884 recorded just yesterday. The death toll stands at 21. 

A 50-year-old Thai man who tested positive Monday died of a cerebral hemorrhage the next day. 

A 31-year-old Indian man collapsed at the dormitory after complaining of chest pains. A post-mortem test found the disease Monday, a day after he died of coronary thrombosis, which is caused by blood clotting inside the blood vessels.

Officials did not attribute their deaths to the coronavirus despite the fact that increased clotting has been linked to strokes and organ failure worldwide.

Other stories to check out:
COVID-19: Heart monitors, medical teleconference kiosks deployed at worker dorms
Singaporeans flock to get hair cut as barbers, hair salons reopen
Changi Airport to shut Terminal 4 due to lack of demand

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