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Singapore—After the news broke of migrant workers in a dormitory testing positive for Covid-19, Madam Ho Ching, Temasek Holdings chief executive and wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, took to social media to explain why vaccinating workers who live in dorms is a priority.

Foreign worker dormitories were the location where the vast majority of Singapore’s Covid-19 cases were found, in large part due to their overcrowded and at times, unhygienic, conditions.

Covid-19 infections spread rapidly in these dormitories even after migrant workers’ rights activists warned that they could be a hotbed for the disease early on in the pandemic.

News reports said Singapore is seeing the highest number of dorm infections in months at the Westlite Woodlands dormitory, where 11 workers were reported infected on Wednesday (Apr 21).

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CNA published an excerpt of a letter signed by the manager of the dorm, which said, “These 11 COVID-19 positive residents are Recovered Workers, and are in addition to the one resident who had been vaccinated and subsequently reported positive on 19th April 2021 (Monday) from Rostered Routine Testing.”

Additionally, over 1,100 residents on the block will spend two weeks at a government quarantine facility (GQF) as a precautionary measure.

Mdm Ho posted a link to the CNA report, and explained why there is “a clear track to vaccinate our dorm residents as a priority” in parallel to “to the public and essential services and frontliner tracks.”

“Dorms can be superspreader venues, that can ricochet all round. And no one is safe till everyone is safe,” she wrote.

Mdm Ho added two “important factors” in the matter.

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The first point she made is that individuals who have had Covid in the past may get reinfected as their antibodies decline, which is why they need to be vaccinated.

Her second point is that giving those who have recovered from the infection “a shot of an effective mRNA vaccine is like having the 2nd booster shot of a 2 shot regime”.

When recovered persons are given the single-shot vaccine, this gives their antibody levels the needed boost for their protection against the infection. 

“They could also spark the deeper and broader layer of cellular defences, which are more long lasting, and which appear to be able to defend against new variants,” she added.

Mdm Ho wrote further on the “new variants of concern, or VOCs,” saying that these have “higher breakthrough possibilities” and can “escape the embrace of the antibodies that fought the older variants”.

She also called for continued vigilance, pointing to experiences in  “India, USA, Europe, Brazil”, where cases continue to rise.

“When we get lulled by falling or low numbers, and begin to interact boisterously and loudly in huge dense crowds without covid precautions, whether at parties, religious festivals, political rallies, or sports events, we seed huge new waves.”

She also mentioned that vaccine coverage can be expected to expand to cover even people as young as 12 years old, infants and pregnant women by the latter half of the year.


Read also: Why are migrant workers in dorms still under strict control?

Why are migrant workers in dorms still under strict control?

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