Singapore

Some firms took pre-emptive measures to keep workers safe from virus

While many dormitories are coming under fire as the number of Covid-19 infections among foreign workers continues to climb, some companies made sure they were the exception, implementing pre-emptive measures to keep their workers safe.

Early intervention is cited as crucial in their efforts.

Local construction company, Woh Hup, which runs four dormitories with a total capacity of about 2,000, swung into action when news of the virus broke in January.

As of yesterday, Woh Hup had 12 confirmed cases among its workers living in dorms.

The company vacated one of them, SK2 Dormitory - with a capacity of 372 beds - and designated it as a central isolation facility for workers on leave of absence, stay-home notice or medical leave. As of last Friday, there were 119 workers there.

Mr Neil Yong, an executive director and chairman of the company's crisis management committee, said the dormitory was enhanced to provide properly partitioned rooms equipped with hot and cold water dispensers and personal electrical sockets to minimise interaction between residents.

The company also designed a detailed timetable, to stagger activities and the use of facilities.

Mr Yong said getting buy-in and compliance from all stakeholders was difficult at times, as some measures seemed like an overreaction.

To date, 11,419 migrant workers who live in dormitories have tested positive for Covid-19.

S11 Dormitory @ Punggol has the biggest cluster with more than 2,200 cases.

Another local company, Unison Construction, has 224 foreign workers housed at a factory-converted dormitory in Tuas. So far, the four-storey dormitory has no Covid-19 cases.

Some 13 to 15 workers share a room.

Workers from each room take turns to use the toilets and have their meals in their rooms, said a dormitory manager, who gave his name only as Mr Chang.

MOVED THEM OUT

Mr Clarence Chua, who runs landscaping firm Country Cousins, made the snap decision to pull his three workers out of Sungei Tengah Lodge when he heard about the cluster of three infections linked to the 25,000-bed dormitory.

He moved them to a hostel on April 6.

Later, he moved them and seven other workers at Westlite Juniper to two rental apartments - one of which is a condominium unit in Bugis that he owns.

coronavirus