Singapore quarantines over 1,100 migrant workers, probes reinfections

Singapore is quarantining more than 1,100 migrant workers after about a dozen COVID-19 cases were found in a dormitory and was investigating the possibility of re-infections among those who had recovered from the virus.

More than 1,100 workers from the dormitory will be quarantined at government facilities for 14 days, the dormitory operator said in a letter to clients circulated on social media.

Centurion Corp, which owns the Westlite Woodlands dormitory, confirmed the authenticity of the letter.

Authorities conducted COVID-19 tests on residents of the dormitory after one worker was found positive on Tuesday, April 20, during routine testing.

The worker had received a second vaccination dose a week earlier and his roommate also tested positive.

To date, at least 10 recovered workers have tested positive for COVID-19.

"These cases were immediately isolated and conveyed to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) to investigate for possible re-infection," the manpower ministry said in a statement issued on Wednesday.

A Reuters journalist saw about 10 buses lined up near the dormitory compound on Thursday, taking dozens of men out of the complex.

The bulk of Singapore's more than 60,000 COVID-19 cases occurred in dormitories that house tens of thousands of mainly South Asian low-wage workers, triggering lockdowns of the premises last year.

Singapore has largely brought the virus under control locally and has also been rolling out vaccinations. It last reported more than 10 cases in a single day among dormitory residents in September, with barely any new infections over the last few months.

The health ministry has previously said vaccines were effective in preventing symptomatic disease but further research was required on whether they also prevented onward transmission.

Concerns have been growing over new variants of the virus and the effectiveness of existing vaccines against them.

While the potential for re-infection has existed, these cases came sooner than expected, said Hsu Li Yang, an infectious diseases expert at the National University of Singapore.

The dormitory workers are still mostly separated from the rest of the population, typically only allowed out of their residence for work.

Meanwhile, Singapore's transport ministry said it hoped a long-delayed air travel bubble with Hong Kong would start soon, but no date had been fixed yet. ā€“ Rappler.com