Singapore, which has been dealing with an outbreak of coronavirus infections among its migrant workers, is building new dormitories with improved standards.
By the end of this year, the country plans to create additional space to house about 60,000 workers, the Ministry of National Development and the Ministry of Manpower said in a joint media release.Longer term, proposed new purpose-built dormitories are to house up to 100,000 workers to replace short to medium-term housing.
“We aim to make dormitory living and design more resilient to public health risks including pandemics, with improved living standards that are benchmarked both domestically and internationally,” the ministries said in the release. “We will take on board lessons learnt from the current COVID pandemic.”
To start, an improved set of standards will be piloted at new quick-build dormitories. Those standards include six or more square meters (64 or more square feet) per resident, 10 or fewer beds per room and at least one toilet, bathroom and sink to five beds, according to the ministries.
Making up a significant portion of the Singaporean workforce, 1.4 million migrant workers live in the city-state -- mostly employed in construction, manual labor and housekeeping. Of these, about 200,000 live in 43 dormitories, according to Minister of Manpower Josephine Teo.
Each dorm room houses about 10 to 20 residents. They share toilet and shower facilities, eat in common areas, and sleep just feet away from each other. It's nearly impossible to conduct social distancing.
As of Monday, Singapore confirmed 408 new coronavirus cases -- all of whom were among work permit holders staying in dormitories. This brings the country’s total cases to 35,292, of which 33,027 (93.6%) are dorm residents.