COVID-19 testing completed for all migrant workers in dormitories, except ‘a few’ quarantine blocks: MOH

SINGAPORE: All migrant workers living in dormitories have been tested for COVID-19, except for those in “a few” standalone blocks that serve as quarantine facilities, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Friday (Aug 7).

The workers in these quarantine facilities will be tested when their isolation ends, and the case counts are expected to remain high in the coming days before tapering down after, added MOH.

As of noon on Friday, there were 51,868 COVID-19 cases in dormitories, comprising 51,862 long-term pass holders and work pass holders, five Singaporeans or permanent residents, and one visitor.

This constitutes around 16 per cent of the 323,000 dormitory population “at risk” of infection, according to MOH’s situation report. The figure compares with the 0.04 per cent prevalence rate in the community.

As of Friday, cases in the dormitories made up about 94.6 per cent of Singapore’s total of 54,797 COVID-19 cases. The rest of the cases comprise 2,190 cases in the community and 739 imported infections.

According to the situation report, there were 9,553 people under quarantine in non-gazetted dormitories as of Friday.

Education Minister Lawrence Wong, co-chair of the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force, said on Thursday that authorities were on track to test all workers living in dormitories by Friday, except the final group of workers completing their quarantine.

Mr Wong said that in the upcoming two weeks, Singapore can expect to see volatile case numbers as the workers are tested at the end of their isolation period.

With workers who have either been cleared or recovered from COVID-19 back on the job, construction activity will be able to resume by the end of the month as well, said Mr Wong, urging contractors to put in place the required safe management measures.

Workers will still be tested every two weeks after they return to work, said the minister, warning that COVID-19 cases among the community could appear once more.

“Just because we have COVID-cleared dormitories doesn’t mean that we should assume these are permanently COVID-safe dormitories because we all know that the virus can flare up again.”

On top of the safe management practices that are in place, the Government will keep working with employers to make sure that construction activities are carried out in a “safer manner” to minimise the chances of large clusters forming, he said.