908 cases today. There really is no comfort to be taken in the fact thmunity’ cases are in the single digits while the dorm cases can skyrocket like this.
All I have to do is think of myself as a migrant worker. I open the newspapers and all I read is how the numbers in the dorm have not been decreasing. And yet the ‘community’ numbers are down to a trickle. I see images of Singaporeans starting to crowd public spaces, eating in restaurants and bars, making their way …back to normalcy. What kind of one government, two systems is this?
What will this do to my mental health? Why does it seem as if people don’t care whether the virus spreads in the dorms, as long as it is ‘contained’ and does not infect the Singaporean ‘community’? Why do I hear ‘excuses’ like young, fit men like migrant workers are usually asymptomatic and do not succumb to life-threatening complications? What about the long-term effects of exposure to the virus?
And if the situation is not coming under control, how am I able to send money back to my family, to pay the people I have borrowed money from (who might be harassing my family), am I being paid while this drags on with no end in sight, will I still have my job in the future, will the fact that I have been infected once with Covid-19 became a liability for my future employment prospects, is this something they will make me declare?
There have been attempted suicides in the dorms. One migrant worker stood on a ledge, another on a rooftop. Another slit his throat.
As for suspected suicides, which the police and press have called ‘unnatural death with no foul play suspected’ (I have never really encountered the word ‘suicide’ in those carefully curated reports) we know of three cases. From a New Paper report on July 24 (and quoted verbatim):
1) April 23, Indian national Alagu Periyakarrupan, 46, was found motionless at a staircase landing in Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, where he was receiving treatment for Covid-19.
2) May 15, a Bangladeshi worker was found motionless in his dormitory at 31 Kranji Crescent and was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.
3) July 24, a 37-year-old worker from India was found motionless at 512 Old Choa Chu Kang Road and was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.
(Edit: there is a 4th case that was not reported in the TNP article. It appears in a June 27 CNA article: ‘MOH also announced that a 27-year-old Bangladeshi man who contracted COVID-19 has died from multiple injuries resulting from a fall from height. He tested positive for the virus on Jun 6 and died on Jun 25.’ This means that since April, there has been one migrant worker who committed suicide every month.)
While the headline to this article (see photo) says ‘Singapore reports 908 new Covid-19 cases’, the photo they have chosen is of Singapore shoppers on Orchard Road. There is an emergency in the migrant worker dorms and Singaporeans are out shopping. As an image of indifference it is obscene. If I was a migrant worker looking at this photo, I will think, 900 of us are infected, and instead of showing our suffering, the media chooses to show how little our suffering matters.
(They have since changed the accompanying photo to that of a foreign worker in a dormitory.)