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Singapore is no longer an example: the situation of migrant workers crowded into dormitories triggers contagion


On March 15, there were no more than 200 infected. Everything went wrong a few days later. As the coronavirus spread around the world, many Singaporeans returned to the country. They came from places that did not have high rates of infection, so the alert at airports was relaxed, although all those who returned had to spend two weeks in quarantine at home.

Day after day, cases rose by the dozens. But in April, they began to be counted in the thousands. Now, in just three days, 3,000 new cases have been reported in Singapore. In total, 9,125 have been infected, although the death toll remains very low, at only 11. Yesterday was a record day, with 1,426 new infections. Most of them were foreign workers who had returned to this small city-state with just over five and a half million inhabitants. It is precisely these workers, the low-wage migrants, who represent 60% of all infections in the country, and this has allowed the focus to be placed also on the deplorable conditions in which these workers live in one of the richest nations in the world.

In Singapore there are more than 200,000 migrant workers who have come from countries such as Bangladesh or India to make a living in construction and domestic service. The local media have reported these days that most live in overcrowded dormitories, even housing up to 20 people in a small room with kitchen and bathroom, where the social distancing required by the government is impossible. Authorities have searched 43 of these dormitories and tested their tenants, and have located people with coronavirus in all of them.


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