Singapore’s migrant workers bear brunt of Covid-19 spike – dpa international


Inside Peninsula Plaza in Singapore, a hub for Burmese shops, restaurants and businesses in the city-state (Simon Roughneen)

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Thursday lauded foreign workers who have borne the brunt of a surge of cases of Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus.

Lee said Singapore is “grateful” for the efforts of the workers – who hail from less wealthy Asian neighbours such as Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines and Myanmar – for helping to build much of the city-state’s infrastructure, according to Lee.

“Some man midnight shifts in our factories. Others take care of our sick and elderly in hospitals and nursing homes. Hundreds of thousands of Singapore households depend on domestic workers from neighbouring countries,” Lee said.

Lee’s remarks came after Singapore’s Health Ministry announced a record of 447 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours late Wednesday, taking the total to 3,699.

More than 400 Covid-19 patients live in crowded government-sanctioned migrant dormitories – which are home to around 200,000 migrant workers in all.

“The number of new cases amongst work permit holders has increased significantly, from an average of 48 cases per day in the week before, to 260 cases per day in the past week,” the ministry said.

Desiree Leong of the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME) said foreign workers in Singapore face “systemic marginalization” and are vulnerable to the pandemic due to “poor access to medical care and high-density cramped accommodation.”

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