It was reported that the S11 Dormitory @ Punggol (2 Seletar North Link) run by S11 group now has the most number of confirmed COVID-19 cases among foreign workers staying in dormitories.
As of 24 Apr, it has 2,263 cases.
While two other dormitories, Sungei Tengah Lodge (500 Old Choa Chu Kang Road), has a total of 871 confirmed cases and Toh Guan Dormitory (19A Toh Guan Road East), has a total of 113 confirmed cases.
All three dormitories were among the first dormitories that have been gazetted as isolation areas due to the numbers of infected cases being identified.
S11 Dormitory @ Punggol was first to be gazetted on 5 April along with Westlite Toh Guan, Toh Guan Dormitory was then gazetted as the third isolated area on 6 April and Sungei Tengah Lodge was gazetted as fourth isolated area on 8 April.
Measles outbreak in S11 Dormitory @ Punggol, Sungei Tengah Lodge and Toh Guan Dormitory
Prior to the current massive COVID-19 outbreak in these three dormitories, it was reported about nine to ten months ago (Jul 2019) that there had been measles outbreaks within the dormitories.
On 27 June 2019, Ministry of Health (MOH) announced that a total of eight measles cases were identified in Toh Guan Dormitory and Sungei Tengah Lodge in June 2019, with two from Toh Guan and six from Sungei Tengah.
The first case involved a worker at Toh Guan Dormitory who developed symptoms on 31 May. He was later admitted to hospital on 3 June and tested positive for measles on June 6. He has since been discharged.
On 16 June, the worker’s roommate also developed symptoms and sought outpatient treatment. He was isolated at the dormitory’s sick bay and tested positive for measles on 20 June.
Close contacts of the two workers, including roommates and co-workers, were later vaccinated against measles, MOH said. As for the case at Sungei Tengah, 92 close contacts of the men have been identified and vaccinated.
Subsequently on 15 July 2019, the MOH said that it notified of the first case of measles infection in S11 Dormitory @ Punggol involving one Indian worker. Two other measles cases involving a Bangladeshi and another Indian worker from the same dormitory were notified to MOH on 16 July and 19 July respectively.
Apparently, the Bangladeshi worker had arrived from Bangladesh on 27 June. The other 2 cases had no recent travel history. Vaccination history of the three cases was unclear. The three were said to have resided at different blocks in the dormitory and were from different companies, working at different sites. They reported no contact with sick people. It was unclear how they were infected.
MOH then conducted screening and vaccination of all the close contacts of the three cases, who do not have proof of vaccination or immunity.
Like COVID-19, measles is a highly transmissible viral disease. However, unlike COVID-19, there is a vaccine for measles. Hence, the most effective way of preventing measles infection is to be vaccinated, which helps to reduce the risk of widespread transmission and large outbreaks. Measles vaccination is compulsory by law for all children residing in Singapore.
In any case, it is noted that in 2015, the Foreign Employee Dormitories Act (FEDA) was passed into law in Singapore. Under FEDA, operators of large worker dormitories — housing 1,000 or more workers —are required, among other things, to provide social and recreational facilities, and have quarantine plans in place, in the event of an infectious disease outbreak.
Under the Act, a licensed operator who contravenes or fails to comply with a condition of the licensed operator’s licence shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $50,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, or to both, for each condition that is contravened or not complied with.
It’s not known if the three dormitories have such quarantine plans and whether was there any investigation conducted by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) or MOH into the quarantine plans of the dormitory after the measles outbreak.
Or whether did the Ministers from the two ministries ensure that there are quarantine plans put in place to ensure that the migrant workers housed within the dormitories are protected from an infectious disease outbreak, particularly after being forewarned by the measles outbreak last year.