Singapore declares all immigrant barracks COVID-19 free

Bangkok, Aug 19 (efe-epa).- Singapore declared Wednesday that all the barracks of unskilled immigrant workers, where more than 90 percent of the novel coronavirus cases have been concentrated since the beginning of the pandemic, are now free of COVID-19.

The nearly 400,000 workers, mostly immigrants from South Asia, have completed a period of isolation or have been transferred to other facilities depending on their health status, the city-state Ministry of Labor said in a statement.

Singaporean authorities approved a plan a few months ago to reduce the density of the blocks for workers, where in April there was a strong outbreak of COVID-19 due to the unhealthy conditions of these places where up to 24 people shared a room.

To do so, they set up schools and warehouses and planned the construction of new temporary and permanent sites where they transferred tens of thousands of workers, most of whom are employed by the construction sector.

Local authorities also established a series of social distance measures and controls to avoid a new wave of infections.

“As data is collected more quickly, we will be able to better assess the impact of distancing measures. This will in turn allow us to better understand the patterns of virus spread and review the need for quarantine when a case is detected,” the statement read.

Rights groups applauded the measures promoted by local authorities to prevent contagion, although they criticized the excessive controls that they said can deprive workers of freedom of movement and other rights.

Health authorities Wednesday reported 93 cases of COVID-19, including 85 infected among this group of unskilled workers.

The thriving city-state of just over 5.6 million people was one of the first countries to detect COVID-19 outside of China and acted swiftly to contain it, but as of late April the virus began to spread in the workers’ barracks.

Since the start of the pandemic, a total of 52,518 cases of the new coronavirus have been detected in Singapore, and more than 90 percent have occurred in the dozens of barracks located on the outskirts of the city. EFE-EPA


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