Singapore detects new COVID-19 clusters at migrant worker dormitories

SINGAPORE, Sept 3- Singapore health authorities have detected new COVID-19 clusters at foreign worker dormitories previously found to be clear of the infection, highlighting the challenge in containing the spread of the highly infectious virus. Besides swab tests, Singapore has also been conducting serological tests in the dormitories to determine if…

SINGAPORE, Sept 3 (Reuters) – Singapore health authorities

have detected new COVID-19 clusters at foreign worker

dormitories previously found to be clear of the infection,

highlighting the challenge in containing the spread of the

highly infectious virus.

The vast majority of Singapore’s nearly 57,000 cases arefrom cramped dormitories that house more than 300,000 mostlySouth Asian workers employed in sectors such as construction andship-building.

Authorities declared last month that all workers living indormitories had recovered or had been tested to be free fromCOVID-19.

But, over the last two weeks new clusters have emerged. OnWednesday, the health ministry said clusters were detected atthree more dormitories after finding links between cases.

Besides swab tests, Singapore has also been conductingserological tests in the dormitories to determine if some ofthese cases are current or past infections. Among Wednesday’s43 new dormitory cases, serological test results for at least 23were positive, which indicated likely past infections, thehealth ministry said.

While Singapore had initially won international praise forcontaining the spread of the virus, it had to implement atwo-month lockdown after mass outbreaks in the dormitories. Italso embarked on a strict quarantining and a testing regime forthe dormitories.

The government would “have acted more aggressively andsooner on the migrant worker dormitories” had it known earlierabout asymptomatic cases and how easily the infection couldspread, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in aspeech on Wednesday.(Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan in SingaporeEditing by Ed Davies)