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Singapore PM: Will Take Care of Indian Migrants Just as Our Own Citizens

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Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has assured Prime Minister Narendra Modi that Indian nationals working in Singapore will be taken care of just as other Singaporeans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a Facebook post on Thursday, Lee said he had a telephone discussion with Modi about the ongoing COVID-19 situation in Singapore and India.

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During the call, Lee said he acknowledged migrant workers’ sacrifices to work in Singapore.

“I assured him (Modi) that we will care for Indian migrant workers here, just as we care for Singaporeans. The migrant workers made personal sacrifices to come to work here. They have made many contributions to Singapore, so we have a responsibility for them,” said Lee.

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“Appreciate PM Modi’s affirmation of our efforts in looking after the migrant workers, and his assurance that they will not forget this,” Lee added.

He thanked Modi for India’s help in bringing back stranded Singaporeans from India. Singapore flew out 699 of its citizens in early April after they were stranded due to the coronavirus lockdown in India.

After speaking with Lee, Modi said the strategic partnership between India and Singapore can contribute to stability and prosperity in the post-COVID world.

“Exchanged views on the COVID-19 pandemic with PM @leehsienloong, and thanked him for the support and care being extended to Indian citizens in Singapore,” Modi tweeted.

The Singapore PM has called India’s nationwide lockdown since late March “not a simple decision” in a huge country of 1.3 billion people.

India and Singapore are strategic partners with extensive economic ties, he said.

“We agreed to work together on the challenges posed by the pandemic, keep supply chains intact, and keep essential supplies flowing,” said Lee in the post.

The two leaders also discussed the “extensive economic ties” Singapore and India share.

The High Commission of India in Singapore told The Straits Times that Prime Minister Modi called his Singapore counterpart as part of his ongoing engagement with various world leaders on coronavirus.

As of April 19, over 1,600 Indian nationals have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in Singapore, according to The Straits Times report.

The Singapore Health Ministry has stopped releasing individual case details, including nationality, after Sunday last, reported the Singapore Daily.

Indians make up the second-largest group — in terms of nationality — of coronavirus patients in Singapore.

Bangladeshis are the largest national group with more than 2,900 patients. Singaporeans are third on the list with over 1,100 patients.

Singapore currently is in the middle of its circuit breaker exercise, which is a series of restriction to control the spread of coronavirus.

Meanwhile, a 46-year-old Indian national, who was detected with coronavirus, was found dead here on Thursday, police said.

The deceased, whose name was not revealed by the authorities, was found dead at the staircase landing at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.

Battling the second-wave of coronavirus infections, Singapore on Thursday reported 1,037 new COVID-19 cases, more than 1,000 of which are foreign workers, including Indian nationals, mostly working in labour-intensive industries and living in packed dormitories.

This is the fourth day in a row that Singapore has reported a daily increase of more than 1,000 cases.

Manpower Minister Josephine Teo has noted with concern the number of foreign workers inflicted by the killer disease.

“I was deeply saddened by news that a worker passed away this morning,” said Teo, referring to the Indian national found dead in Khoo Teck Hospital.

The Indian worker had worked with the same employer in Singapore since 2009.

“We have informed his family and are working with the Migrant Workers’ Centre (an NGO working for foreign workers here) to support the family,” said Teo in a Facebook post.

The Singapore Hindu Endowments Board will also undertake the funeral arrangements of the worker.

Earlier this afternoon, Law and Home Minister K Shanmugam and I visited the worker’s roommates who are also his friends, she wrote in the post.

“His friends, who are also working with the same employer, were sad but calm. They shared with us that they’re satisfied with their work in Singapore, and that the employer has been taking good care of them,” said Teo, referring to the late Indian national.

“I reassured them that their health and medical needs are our uppermost priority. If they fall sick, the government will make sure they are treated and help them recover.

“I was glad they knew all the right numbers to call, which had been provided by our officers,” said Teo.

Teo reiterated Singapore’s assurances to migrant workers, noting they are worried.

“We will look after you, your health and safety, your daily needs. You can approach our officers at any time for help. Please stay strong so that you can be reunited with your families.

“We know this is a stressful time for all of you. You are not alone, and the Singapore government will take care of you,” said Teo.

Teo along with Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam visited the dormitory of the deceased Indian worker and spoke to his colleagues.

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