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Migrant workers in a factory converted into a dormitory in Singapore on April 24. Ore Huiying / Getty Images

Rubel, a 28-year-old migrant worker in Singapore, is scared. The dormitory in which he lives, along with other foreign workers, has been locked, and no one is allowed in or out as officials scramble to contain the country. new coronavirus epidemic.

What’s going on in Singapore: In recent weeks, the Asian city state has seen a dramatic increase in coronavirus infections, with thousands of new cases linked to clusters in foreign workers’ dormitories. To control the spread, the government has attempted to isolate dormitories, test workers, and move symptomatic patients to quarantine facilities.

But these measures have left hundreds of thousands of workers trapped in their dormitories, living cheek by jowls in cramped conditions that make social distance almost impossible.

Singapore is home to around 1.4 million migrant workers who come mainly from South and Southeast Asia. As maids, housekeepers, construction workers and manual workers, these migrants are essential to keeping Singapore in business – but are also among the lowest paid and most vulnerable in the city.

How it affects migrant workers: Rubel, who only has one name, came from Singapore to Singapore six years ago to work in construction and earn money for his family. Now, his health and safety being threatened, he worries about those who depend on him.

“I am afraid of this coronavirus because if I catch it, I cannot take care of my family,” he said.

During the first three months of the coronavirus pandemic, Singapore was congratulated for his response and the apparent ability to suppress infections without resorting to extreme measures.

Then, in April, the number of cases exploded. Since March 17, the total number of cases in Singapore has dropped from 266 to 12,075, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Even though the number of new cases exceeded 1,000 per day, only a dozen per day were Singaporean citizens of permanent residents; the rest were all migrant workers.

Read the full story here.


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