Trapped under threat of prison: the life of an immigrant in Singapore

Singapore, March 16 (EFE).- Two years after the pandemic broke out and while Singapore opens up to the world, there is a group that still does not enjoy the same freedoms as other citizens: migrant workers, the most battered by infections and the only ones whose movements are still restricted.

“Since the ‘corona,’ work, go to the bedroom; work, go to the bedroom,” Muthu Siva, a construction worker of Indian origin who has lived in Singapore for three years, told EFE about her life under the Covid-19 pandemic.

Shortly after the first cases were registered in Singapore at the beginning of 2020, the pathogen slipped into the barracks where the more than 300,000 immigrants from different parts of Asia live, especially from the south, who built skyscrapers and roads of the island.

The overcrowding in these ships, with rooms shared by a dozen men, without the presence of women, eased the virus’ rapid spread: weeks were enough for them to become the epicenter of infections, with up to 90 percent of the total in the worst moments.

It is estimated that 50 percent of the total number of workers, who for months were strictly prevented from leaving the barracks except to go to their job, ended up getting infected.

Two years later, without any outbreak in the bedrooms since September 2020 and with about 98 percent of immigrants vaccinated, they are still not free. While the rest of the 5.7 million inhabitants of the island can visit cinemas, theaters, restaurants, and even travel abroad and return without quarantine, these men are not allowed to mingle with the “community” except on rare occasions.

“Programs to visit the community for migrant workers living in dormitories will be expanded,” Gan Kim Yong, who co-leads the ministerial commission to combat Covid-19 in Singapore, said Friday.

Gan, who doubles as Commerce Minister, was referring to the fact that, starting this week, up to 15,000 vaccinated immigrants will be able to visit the “community,” as known by official jargon, daily, with 30,000 allowed on holidays and weekends; that is, 10 percent of the total.

Until now, only 3,000 were allowed on weekdays, and 6,000 on Saturdays and Sundays. EFE


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