Singapore has said that it has undertaken several measures to enhance the facilities in dormitories for foreign workers, as the city-state on Wednesday reported 788 new COVID-19 cases with majority of them being migrant workers, including Indian nationals, taking the total number of infections to 20,198. The Health Ministry in its daily update of preliminary figures said vast majority of the new cases are work permit holders residing in foreign worker dormitories.
Eleven cases are Singapore citizens or permanent residents (foreigners). Further details on the cases will be shared later in the day, said the ministry.
Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran on Tuesday addressed the concerns of the migrant workers living in dormitories, who have been subject to stringent restrictions and active testing.
Speaking in Tamil for workers from India, Iswaran explained the need to test them and their co-workers.
The Indian-origin Singapore minister said the government has "undertaken numerous efforts to enhance the quality of food and facilities" within the dormitories.
Meanwhile, Singaporeans will be using a new reusable cloth masks which have better bacterial filtration “without compromising on breathability”, said Professor Alfred Huan from the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR).
“In the earlier version, the focus was more about protecting the community from each of the wearers, and depending on the kind of cloth or material, reusability would vary quite a bit. And it wasn’t really tested for any kind of bacterial filtration at that point.”
Noting research by A*STAR that shows the reusable cloth masks protect people by preventing saliva and droplets from infecting others, Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing on Wednesday said “new and better” materials have been found to improve on the initial cloth mask designs.
Singapore has also started production of surgical masks since February, according to a report by the Channel News Asia.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Singapore worked with partners to produce surgical masks.
With export restrictions constantly changing amid the coronavirus pandemic, diversifying and looking for new supply lines was a “daily exercise”, said the minister.
For example, some purchasers had to visit other countries and factories overseas, pay for the masks in cash, and guard the masks to make sure they are loaded on the trailers, planes and ships, he said.
The locally produced surgical masks will go towards Singapore’s healthcare system, he added.