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Singapore Discriminates against Foreign Workers in Combating the Corona Pandemic

Although the Singaporean authorities have canceled the restrictions movement on their citizens after controlling the Corona pandemic, they are still imposing a quarantine on more than 300,000 foreign workers in the country, despite the fact that 97% of them have received a full vaccination.

At the height of the pandemic, Singapore provided a successful model in counting the number of daily infections with Covid-19 disease, and tracing contacts with patients with the aim of isolating and monitoring the infected. It was considered a pioneering country in contact tracing. Researchers from Harvard University considered the method used by the Singaporean authorities a “gold standard” in the fight against the virus.

This “city-state” -which is ruled by a semi-authoritarian regime- succeeded in separating its residents well to limit the spread of the epidemic, but its daily data and numbers regarding the numbers of infected people separated citizens and residents on the one hand, and between migrant workers who reside in places known as “dormitories”. There are 300,000 migrant workers, most of whom come from the Indian subcontinent.

Since the beginning of the epidemic, the authorities have taken strict measures to control the spread of the virus in overcrowded dormitories, with about 20 workers staying in a room. Serological tests revealed that 47% of migrant workers had contracted the coronavirus and developed natural immunity.

Nearly a year later, 97% of foreign workers have been fully vaccinated, and the spread of the virus in dormitories is lower than in the rest of Singapore, but the authorities are still quarantining migrant workers.

Migrant workers are marginalized, says Ethan Guo, director of the non-governmental organization Transient Workers Count Too. Their dormitories are far from residential areas and citizens never pass by them. If you tell a Singaporean today that someone has been detained in their country for 19 months, they might be surprised.

Professor Teo Yik Ying, Dean of the Sao Soi Hock School of Public Health at the National University of Singapore, expresses concern about these measures. “For the sake of their mental health, migrant workers must be allowed to move around Singapore and go to the shops, the cinema, the church and the mosque. I think. Progress must be made in this area.”

Under these circumstances, the situation has become stifled in the dormitories of migrant workers. At the beginning of last October, 1,400 workers revolted against the engineering company Sembcorp Marine, protesting the presence of large worms in meals and housing Covid-19 patients in the same place as the rest of the workers.

Riot police intervened to contain the situation, and management promised to make an effort to improve conditions, but that was not enough to calm the workers. A young man from Bangladesh who has been working in Singapore for 5 years changed his WhatsApp profile picture to a “hamster” spinning in a hurry.

Commenting on the current situation, he said, “We are really living through the worst period of our lives, but I still think that staying in Singapore is my best option.” “.

We call on the Singaporean government to treat state workers humanely and to equate them with citizens in relation to the provided services. We also stress the need to improve their living conditions and to stop treating them like slaves in the middle, especially since they are detained in remote facilities devoid of services and where they are deprived of normal communication with citizens.

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