Singapore will extend its partial lockdown by four more weeks after reporting thousands of new coronavirus cases in recent days, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Tuesday.
The tiny city-state reported 1,111 new cases on Tuesday, increasing its total to 9,125, the most in Southeast Asia. Foreign workers staying in crowded dormitories account for nearly 80% of the infections.
Lee said the sharp upsurge is due to aggressive testing of workers in the dorms, including those who are asymptomatic.
“Many will be disappointed by the extension of the circuit breaker, especially our businesses and workers, who are hurting greatly,” Lee said in a televised speech. “But I hope you understand that this short-term pain is to stamp out the virus, protect the health and safety of our loved ones, and allow us to revive our economy.”
Praised for its swift response and meticulous tracing of contacts in the early stage of the crisis, Singapore is grappling with an explosion of cases in the dorms that were largely overlooked earlier.
Singapore has nearly 1.4 million migrant workers, a third of its labor force, including more than 300,000 in the construction sector alone.
The health ministry said all types of foreign worker dormitories will be locked down starting Wednesday. It said the government is also monitoring workers who live in shophouses and elsewhere. About 180,000 construction workers and their dependents have been ordered to quarantine themselves at home.