Singapore, 200 thousand migrants at risk of coronavirus

They live crammed in 43 dormitories. The poor foreign workers affected are 500, a fourth of all the persons infected in the country; 24 thousand are under observation. The pandemic hit two residential areas. What is happening in the City-State could happen in other nations of Asia and Africa.

The dormitories that give shelter to thousands of migrant workers are the new focus of the coronavirus in Singapore. The City-State is now afraid of a second wave of contagions. The local authorities had been able to contain the diffusion of Covid-19, especially thanks to the partial closure of the borders, to rigorous controls in airports and to an effective system of identification of the disease. Up until a few days ago, the model of intervention of the people of Singapore was considered as one of the most effective ones, together with the ones of South Korea, Taiwan and China. Now the victims are increasing to an alarming extent. Yesterday, 287 new cases of contagion were reported, the worse data from the beginning of the crisis -the day before, they had been 142. Overall, the contagions in the country are around 2 thousand; 6 deaths. The negative trend pushed the government to impose a partial quarantine. Schools and non-essential economic activities are closed, while the population must stay at home, except for their personal fundamental needs. The punishments for those who transgress range from a 10-thousand-dollar penalty (a bit more than 6 thousand Euro) to six months in prison. Worried for the second wave of contagions, the authorities neglected the situation of the migrant workers. Around 200 thousand persons who come from poor countries work mostly in the building sector, the sea transportation and as servants; all jobs in which it is hard to comply with the social distance that is required to prevent the contagions. Migrants constitute around 40% of the national manpower. But they usually live in precarious conditions, crammed in 43 dormitories, frequently 12 in one room, where they have to share the bathroom and the kitchen: a context that favours the transmission of the virus. The cases of infection detected in the dormitories are 500, around 25% of the contagions in the country. More than 24 thousand migrants, crammed in two dormitories, are in quarantine and under observation. They keep receiving their income, apart from food supplies. To reduce the population density, and consequently the possibility of contagion, some of these workers who were not affected by the virus are moved to other areas of the city. The experts give a warning on what is happening in Singapore, and it must be a warning for everyone, especially those countries of south-eastern Asia, of southern Asia and of Africa, which have big communities that live in terrible hygienic conditions in buildings that are similar to the dormitories of Singapore.