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Updates from all over the world
Migrant workers are seen in a quarantined dormitory in Singapore on May 20. Roslan Rahman / AFP / Getty Images

Singapore, which has faced an outbreak of coronavirus infections among its migrant workers, is building new dormitories with improved standards.

By the end of this year, the country plans to create additional space to accommodate around 60,000 workers, the Ministry of National Development and the Ministry of Labor said in a joint press release.

In the longer term, new dormitories are proposed specifically designed to accommodate up to 100,000 workers to replace short- and medium-term housing.

“Our goal is to make dormitory life and design more resilient to public health risks, including pandemics, with better living standards that are compared both nationally and internationally,” ministers said. “We will take the lessons learned from the current COVID pandemic.”

To begin with, an improved set of standards will be piloted into new fast-build dormitories. These standards include six or more square meters (64 or more square feet) per resident, 10 or fewer beds per room and at least one five-bed bathroom, toilet and sink, according to ministries.

Making up a significant portion of Singapore’s workforce, 1.4 million migrant workers lives in the city-state – mainly employed in construction, manual labor and cleaning. Of these, approximately 200,000 live in 43 dormitories, according to the Minister of Labor Josephine Teo.

Each dormitory houses approximately 10-20 residents. They share toilets and showers, eat in common areas and sleep within walking distance of each other. Social distancing is almost impossible.

As of Monday, Singapore has confirmed 408 new coronavirus cases, all of which are included in work permit holders staying in dormitories. This brings the country’s total cases to 35,292, of which 33,027 (93.6%) are dormitory residents.

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