Nearly 4,800 Indian nationals, most of whom are living in dormitories for foreign workers, have been tested positive with the novel coronavirus in Singapore till the end of April, the Indian High Commissioner here said on Monday.
The total number of coronavirus cases in Singapore is 18,205 with 18 deaths, according to the figures released by Singapore Health Ministry on Sunday.
“Almost all of the infection among Indian workers is mild and their conditions are improving, Jawed Ashraf, Indian High Commissioner to Singapore, told PTI.
Over 3,500 Indian nationals, including students, have also registered with the High Commission to return home or to seek assistance for accommodation and food due to their unexpectedly long stay here, he said.
Over 90 per cent of the 4,800 Indians infected by the virus are workers, most of whom are living in dormitories for foreign workers, he said.
In April, over 90 per cent of the COVID-19 cases emerging in Singapore were in dormitories, where authorities are conducting aggressive medical testing and taking quick steps to contain the spread of the virus.
By the last week of April, however, the average daily number of new cases in the dormitories and in the broader community outside, as also the number of unlinked cases, were coming down compared to previous weeks, according to the High Commissioner.
“We continue to pick up many more cases among work permit holders residing in dormitories, including in factory-converted dormitories, because of extensive testing in these premises,” the Health Ministry said on Saturday.
The number of new cases among work permit holders residing outside dormitories has decreased, from an average of 25 cases per day in the week before, to an average of 14 per day in the past week.
The number of new cases in the community has decreased, from an average of 23 cases per day in the week before, to an average of 12 per day in the past week, it added.
Two Indian nationals have died during the COVID-19 pandemic. One was due to a heart ailment though he tested COVID-19 positive after death, and another was a case of committing suicide at the hospital he was admitted for coronavirus treatment.
The two deceased, along with seven other Indian national recent deaths in Singapore not linked to coronavirus, have been cremated or buried here as there were no flights due to the lockdown in India and cargo operating airlines not taking them.
Their remains will be sent home when regular flights resume after the situation normalises.
“We are now working on repatriation issues, whenever the government decides to initiate the process,” Ashraf said.
The High Commission is in touch with the Manpower Ministry here regarding the welfare of laid off workers and has offered accommodation and food.
For Indian workers, we are working with and in consultation with the government in its initiatives for the treatment of the sick and the health and welfare of Indian workers, said the High Commissioner.
The Singapore Government has moved proactively and aggressively to contain the spread of infection among foreign workers, treat the sick and look after the welfare of the workers. The Singapore Government is also providing educational and entertainment content to workers and enhancing broadband and wifi facilities in dormitories.
It is also working with community organisations and institutions to mobilise help for workers, including through the NGOs working with migrant workers.
The High Commission is continuing to provide essential consular services.
It is also providing direct assistance to stranded Indians, students and laid off professionals and workers in Singapore, including accommodation, food, doctor visits and medicine.
The High Commission has also taken the help of two professional counsellors to counsel students and others experiencing isolation and depression.
It is also assisting the Indian Government in procurement efforts for essential medical supplies and facilitating the working of vital supply lines between the two countries, including for agricultural and food products, he said.
The envoy informed that around 3,500 have registered with the High Commission wanting to return home.
These include tourists, business travellers, people on family visits, professionals whose Employment Pass have expired and their family members, students who have finished their courses or have to pursue them online or are no longer in a position to sustain themselves here. Also stranded here are 55 priests who were here for a function at a Hindu temple.
High Commissioner Ashraf noted and appreciated the aggressive pace set by Singapore to control the disease by testing foreign workers and treating the sick.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and ministers as well as officials have reassured foreigners, including Indian nationals, that their health and wellbeing will be taken care of.
The foreign workers, mostly employed in labour-intensive industries here, will continue to be paid normal salaries even though work has been stopped. They are also being allowed to remit wages home to support their families.
Singapore is set to allow some businesses to resume operations from May 12, gradually restarting selected activities and services over a few weeks, reported Channel News Asia on Saturday, citing authorities.