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People cross a street at the shopping district of Orchard Road amid the coronavirus outbreak in Singapore. (REUTERS)
People cross a street at the shopping district of Orchard Road amid the coronavirus outbreak in Singapore. (REUTERS)

Singapore to isolate fewer foreign workers in new coronavirus policy

The new policy will isolate smaller groups when a new case is found in a dorm, instead of an entire block of workers

Singapore will quarantine fewer migrant workers in their dormitories should Covid-19 cases be detected in the living quarters, tweaking its approach to reduce work disruption and improve their welfare.

The new policy will isolate smaller groups when a new case is found in a dorm, instead of an entire block of workers, the Ministry of Manpower said on Friday. This applies to residences where there are no intermixing between workers, with segregation measures put in place by operators, the ministry said.

Those who have recovered from Covid-19 and are within 150 days of their infection won’t need to be quarantined, the ministry said, citing the latest medical evidence that showed they still have antibodies to guard against re-infection. Previously, those who had passed their 120th day of infection had to serve quarantine.

“Through our collective efforts, our migrant workers will remain safe and healthy, and our businesses can minimize disruption to their operations," the ministry said.

Migrant workers have accounted for almost all of the Singapore’s coronavirus cases. Since April, they have been confined to their residences with limited exceptions for work.

After an extensive testing and quarantine campaign, the government cleared the dormitories of Covid-19 in August. But new virus clusters soon re-emerged in the dorms, where workers from China, India, Indonesia and elsewhere share bunks and tight living spaces, raising questions about whether Singapore’s conditions for its low-wage workforce undermine the efforts to stamp it out.

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