With the jump of more than 1,000 cases, Singapore is now facing a big block in the containment of Covid19 cases. While the City-State could control more of the spread of disease through inbound travelers, the country is now baffling before the migrants' dormitories that have become the major hotspots of virus outbreak.
In Singapore, there are close to 300,000 workers who live in either purpose-built or factory-converted dormitories. The government has acknowledged that the large number of cases at the dorms is a “serious problem.”
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a national address on Tuesday that Singapore has embarked on aggressive testing. “Not only those who reported sick, or showed fever or flu symptoms. But also those who were well and asymptomatic” were being tested, he said.
“That’s why you see high numbers popping up everyday, because it’s a very aggressive sweep of the workers inside the dorms even when they are not sick, even when they have no symptoms,” Singapore’s minister for national development, Lawrence Wong, said at a virtual press conference after the address.
Cases outside the dormitories have been much more contained than cases within them, Dr. Leong Hoe Nam, an infectious disease specialist from Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital said. The situation is a bit embarrassing. Foreign workers are housed in dorms that can go up to thousands in numbers, each of them housed in rooms to about 10 to 12 with a communal toilet that serves 10 people also .
One of the things scientists have learned in the last week or two is that there are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic transmitters.
Asymptomatic transmitters are people who remain infectious even though they do not develop any symptoms, while pre-symptomatic transmitters are those who end up developing symptoms later.
Overcrowded dormitories — which were “not clean or sanitary” — in Singapore were like a “time bomb waiting to explode.”
To contain the social contact, Singapore’s minister for manpower said on Tuesday that all migrant workers has to stop work. But Singapore’s health authorities suggest to find alternative accommodation to house close to hundreds of thousands of workers who are currently living in the dormitories. It is “practically impossible” for the government to implement a solution within a short span of a few weeks or a month, that is the crisis the Singapore government is facing now.