Published on : Saturday, April 18, 2020
Singapore is going to use cruise ships as temporarily house foreign workers who have recovered from the coronavirus and tested negative, as it tries to limit the spread after cases soared in the last week.
The potential measure take in the city-state could complement other interim facilities such as military camps and vacant public housing, the tourism board said in a statement on Friday. The move comes as the country grapples with a surge in infections among foreign workers who live in often-cramped dormitories and facilities.
Singapore had its worst day in the outbreak as it posted 728 new cases of the virus, a single-day record that contributed to a doubling of its infection count over the past week. The majority of cases occurred at migrant dormitories, where more than 200,000 workers live.
This new move to consider housing foreign workers in cruise ships comes with a fair bit of irony. The government in March stopped port calls for all cruise vessels, where hundreds of infections had occurred during cruise voyages elsewhere.
The cruise ships are being looked at as they have “readily available rooms and en-suite toilets to minimize person-to-person contact, the Singapore tourism board said. The two ships being assessed for this purpose — Genting Cruise Lines’ SuperStar Gemini and SuperStar Aquarius — can hold up to 2,000 foreign workers, and will allow health measures to be implemented more effectively in existing dormitories by lowering the number of workers there.
With about 10 people sharing a single room, according to Singapore charities that support migrant workers, the crowded conditions at dormitories have emerged as one of Singapore’s biggest challenges in its fight to contain the spread of the coronavirus.