Singapore migrant workers live in fear as virus hits dorms

AFP

9th April, 2020 01:03:15 printer

Singapore migrant workers live in fear as virus hits dorms

Migrant workers in Singapore are living in fear following a surge of coronavirus infections in their dormitories where they say cramped and filthy conditions make social distancing impossible.

The city-state, which is battling a worsening outbreak, this week quarantined four large dormitory complexes housing tens of thousands of mostly South Asian workers, where more than 200 cases have so far been detected.

Infections have also been recorded in a handful of other facilities.

One worker from Bangladesh, who lives in a dorm where there are several known infections but has not yet been locked down, told AFP social distancing to halt the spread of the virus was not possible.

"One small room with 12 people living together... how can we make social distance?" the labourer said in English, on the condition of anonymity.

He said hygiene standards were poor and workers were forced to use a communal cooking area and bathroom.

"We know the virus character, how this is spread -- so if this living condition continue I am very worried," he added.

At least one dorm had overflowing toilets and rooms infested with cockroaches, the Straits Times newspaper reported, casting a harsh spotlight on what critics claim is the disgraceful treatment of foreign labourers in wealthy Singapore.

The huge dormitories mostly house construction workers who typically earn about $400 to $500 a month building the city-state's glittering skyscrapers and shopping malls.

A Bangladeshi man in one of the quarantined dormitories said workers were increasingly concerned about the growing number of asymptomatic cases.

"Definitely we all are worried," he told AFP, also speaking anonymously.

"Since last few days, we already got news that there are so many people affected without any symptoms."

 

 


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