At the start of April, Singapore had about 1,000 cases of the novel coronavirus.
Now, it has 26,098 – and the vast majority are migrant workers, many from South and Southeast Asian countries like Bangladesh and India, who were infected in crowded dormitories.
Making up a significant portion of the Singaporean workforce, 1.4 million migrant workers live in the city state, mostly employed in construction, manual labor and housekeeping. Of these, about 200,000 live in 43 dormitories, according to Minister of Manpower Josephine Teo.
Each dorm room houses about 10 to 20 residents. They share toilet and shower facilities, eat in common areas, and sleep just feet away from each other. It’s nearly impossible to conduct social distancing – the consequences of which became clear in April when Singapore began recording upwards of 1,000 new cases a day.
Authorities scrambled to respond, locking down the dorms and relocating infected residents.
But a month later, Singapore is still struggling to contain the dorm clusters, with at least 23,758 infected dormitory residents. As the rest of Singaporean society prepares to slowly resume normal life, migrant workers remain locked down in their cramped living quarters until June 1.