Where to house the recovered COVID19 Foreign Workers in Singapore?



As of today, we have over 12.5k of active cases.



Among these active cases, over 11,000 are housed in community isolation facilities. Most of them are from the Dormitories clusters.


In recent weeks, Singapore has managed to set up dormitories clusters in the following areas to house those who have mild symptoms of COVID19. There are as follows

D Resort Pasir Ris: 500 pax
Singapore Expo: 950 pax
Changi Exhibition Centre: 2800 pax
Tanjong Pagar Terminal :15,000

Total capacity :  19,250


While the current capacity is able to absorb the new confirmed cases, if the rate of infection continues unabated and the discharge does not move fast enough, we might be facing a crunch within 2 weeks if no new facilities are added.


The next question to ask following the need to address the limited capacity of community isolation facilities is where to house the recovered Foreign Workers?

It would not be possible to send the workers back to the same dormitories as there is a risk of reinfection. This is especially so if the current threat in the dorms is not eliminated.

Possible places to house the workers


1) New Recovery facilities
Similar to the isolation facilities, new facilities might be needed to house the workers. The problem is that since Singapore has limited space, finding sites large enough for this might be a problem. In addition, unlike an isolation facility, there would be a need to have more facilities added to allow for the preparation of meals, sanitisation, privacy and more.  Time and money might be an issue here

2) Use of Cruise ships as recovery centres
This has been muted as part of the recovery plans. At a capacity of 4000, it would not be sufficient to house the full cohort of recovered FW

Source: ST

3) Refurbished old HDB blocks
Some of the old HDB blocks like 21 vacant blocks in Bukit Merah had been refurbished to house healthy workers. Base on HDB statistics, a typical block would have 100 units. At a capacity of 8 per unit, these refurbished blocks can hold 10,000 to 20,000 pax. However, the time and manpower to refurbish the blocks might be an issue

Source: ST

4) Use existing hotels
As of 2018, there are over 66,000 rooms in Singapore Hotels. In terms of capacity, it would be able to absorb a big chunk of recovered FW. However, since it may take a while to rehouse them back to dorms, expenses would be high as the hotels are privately owned

Source: STB

5) Old Army Camps
There are a pockets of old army camps or underused army camps. Those should be able to convert to house FW easily due to the dorm-like facilities.


6) Rehouse back in Dorms
The most ideal scenario is to rehouse back to dorms. They could be rehoused to dorms that are not affected. However, in order for this to happen, there should be a 100% test rate on those unaffected dorms. This way, it would reduce the possibility of reinfection as it has not proven that those with COVID19 antibodies cannot be reinfected again.

Regardless of the solution chosen, it will be an arduous task and a long road to recovery ahead. While some may indicate that sending the recovered FW back would be an alternative, the issue is when the economy restarts in the near future, it may be difficult to bring them back when we most needed it. A tangible solution is not easy to achieve with the outlook. We can only hope that solutions are in place when the need calls for it.






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