Covid-19 : Migrant Worker`s Demise

(Wed, 6 May 2020). Singapore recorded 788 new coronavirus cases, most of which came from migrant dormitories. Poor conditions and a lack of safety precautions put dormitories at risk of a serious outbreak. Middle East shares a similar problem, as Saudi Arabia confirmed 3,000 new cases this week. Singapore’s Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong says the coronavirus outbreak is still far from being defeated. The Minister’s concern stems from the risk of COVID-19 spread in the dormitories of migrant workers. The Minister described the outbreak as “very serious,” and the nation is focused on containing it in the short-term.


Migrant Dormitories Can Trigger A New Wave Of Coronavirus Cases
Countries with limited manpower typically outsource a large portion of local jobs to neighboring countries. In the case of Singapore, it heavily relies on migrant employees to build infrastructure such as roads and buildings. A migrant dormitory in Singapore houses up to 24,000 workers. According to a report from The Guardian, the biggest dormitory in the country housed 20 people in a single room with bunk beds. The problem with the large-scale dormitories in Singapore is overcrowding. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, countries frantically implemented social distancing to reduce the spread of the virus. Highly crowded rooms and facilities with a lack of safety measures can increase the spread of coronavirus.

A study in South Korea found that the basic reproduction number (R0) of coronavirus can reach as high as 12. That means, one coronavirus patient can infected 12 people, and the 12 people can infect 144 people, and so on.

Overcrowded areas pose a significant threat to the resurgence of coronavirus. During a period wherein scientists warn the possibility of COVID-19 being a seasonal form of virus, it is critical to reduce new cases on a daily basis. Singapore confirmed the addition of 788 new cases over the last 24 hours, as the total number of cases surpassed 20,000. The comments of Minister Wong that Singapore is at the halfway line of overcoming coronavirus led to fears that countries which initially saw plateauing cases can accelerate again.


Middle East Has The Same Problem
Countries in the Middle East also have large-scale migrant worker dormitories that are at risk of causing mass coronavirus infections. Studies showed that in the MERS epidemic, packed dormitories fastened the speed of the virus. Dormitories in the Middle East are at a similar risk as Singapore of seeing a potential outbreak in the future. Saudi Arabia’s Health Ministry recently confirmed that the vast majority of 3,000 new cases in the past week came from foreign residents.

International Labor Organization’s migration specialist Ryszard Cholewinski said that the data was to be expected. Migrant dormitories pose a “perfect storm” to spread coronavirus due to the absence of strong safety precautions and resources.



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