• Press Release

Over 20,000 Migrant Workers in Quarantine in Singapore Must be Protected from Mass Infection

April 7, 2020

Essential workers load boxes for delivery in the central business district in Singapore on April 7, 2020, as the country ordered the closure of all businesses deemed non-essential as well as schools to combat the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus. - Singapore's usually bustling business district was almost deserted on April 7 as most workplaces in the city-state closed to stem the spread of the coronavirus after a surge in cases. (Photo by Roslan RAHMAN / AFP) (Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Responding to reports that two dormitories for migrant workers in Singapore have been designated as “isolation areas” and that over 20,000 of them have been put under quarantine there, Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Amnesty International’s Singapore Researcher said:

“The rapid spread of COVID-19 among migrant workers in Singapore was already alarming. The fact that thousands are now under quarantine in extremely close proximity could be a recipe for disaster unless their basic rights are respected.

“Migrant workers living in crowded quarters, without opportunities to self-isolate and protect themselves, are at particular risk of exposure to the virus. Amnesty International has previously expressed concerns over the lack of adequate sanitation available in housing for migrant workers, which could also put them at greater risk.

“Quarantines must always be imposed in a manner consistent with human rights. The Singapore government must ensure that human rights remain central to all attempts at prevention and containment of the COVID-19 virus and that all people have access to adequate space for social distancing, adequate water and sanitation facilities, and access to proper healthcare and hygiene equipment for everyone affected, without discrimination.”


On April 6, 2020, the Singapore government announced it was gazetting two foreign worker dormitories as “isolation areas” due to an upsurge in cases of COVID-19. To date, the SS11 dormitory in Punggol and the Westlite Toh Guan dormitory have accounted for a total of 90 cases of COVID-19.

Over 20,000 migrant workers will be placed under strict quarantine for the next 14 days. Workers will not be able to move between rooms, floors or blocks in dormitories, but authorities have said that time for recreation will be provided. Workers will also undergo health screenings, and those found to be ill will be kept in isolation. Amnesty International has previously expressed concerns about the housing and labor rights of foreign workers in Singapore, particularly those living in unhygienic conditions.

To learn more about COVID-19 and human rights, visit: https://www.amnestyusa.org/distant-but-together-responding-to-covid-19/

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Mariya Parodi, [email protected]