By Agence France-Presse
Singapore is moving migrant workers who have recovered from the coronavirus on two cruise ships as part of efforts to reduce the spread of the disease within the workers’ dormitories, which have seen a surge in infections.
The city-state managed to keep the COVID-19 outbreak in check in the early stages but is facing a fast-moving second wave of cases, with the vast majority of new infections in sprawling dormitory complexes housing migrant workers, many of them construction laborers from South Asia.
A group of workers boarded the SuperStar Gemini, a mid-sized cruise ship, on Wednesday, and another vessel, the SuperStar Aquarius, is ready to receive more after undergoing assessments by government agencies, the Singapore Tourism Board said on Friday.
Together, the vessels can accommodate up to 2,000.
In a bid to reduce the risk of infection in crowded dorms, authorities have already moved workers to other sites including military barracks and vacant apartment blocks.
A governmental task force announced on Friday that it will set up additional facilities at badly-hit dormitories to care for patients with mild symptoms and those who no longer require medical care.
It will also build new dorms to house healthy workers and recovered patients.
Cruise ships have been the site of massive outbreaks during the pandemic.
On the Diamond Princess, a cruise ship that docked in Yokohama, Japan, officials opted to carry out a much-criticized onboard quarantine that they argued would limit infections, but more than 700 people ultimately contracted the virus and 13 died.
To reduce the risk of infection, workers are housed in twin rooms with en-suite toilets and are told to follow safe distancing measures, the tourism board said, adding food is individually packaged and hung outside cabins.
The ships’ operator, Genting Cruise Lines, said it has had no reported cases of coronavirus on any of its ships and has a “healthy flow of fresh air” throughout its vessels.
Singapore has reported 17,101 cases and 15 deaths.