Singapore announced over 900 new cases of coronavirus Saturday, a new record high, with practically all infections traced to cramped dormitories housing foreign laborers, local media reported.
The affluent city-state had initially been held up as a gold standard in the global fight against the pandemic; however, a surge in the number of cases has left the government scrambling to contain the outbreak.
Since mid-March, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases spiked from 266 to over 6,588, according to data from several trackers. As of Sunday, 11 people died of the virus.
Around 200,000 mostly South Asian workers live in 43 dorms located outside the city, making up an essential part of the country’s workforce.
“Singapore should be a warning to us,” Vincent Rajkumar, a professor at the US hospital network Mayo Clinic, tweeted on Thursday.
Singapore should be a warning to us. They had COVID under excellent control. Now it’s out of control: 728 new cases yesterday. When we relax social distancing measures prematurely we risk a second wave. Places where groups of people work/live close to each other are at high risk. pic.twitter.com/vMnEfNSU0Y
— Vincent Rajkumar (@VincentRK) April 16, 2020
“The dormitories were like a time bomb waiting to explode,” Tommy Koh, a Singapore-based lawyer, wrote on Facebook.
“The way Singapore treats its foreign workers is not First World but Third World. The government has allowed their employers to transport them in flat bed trucks with no seats. They stay in overcrowded dormitories and are packed likes sardines with 12 persons to a room.”