Breaking News
Investing Pro 0
NEW! Get Actionable Insights with InvestingPro+ Try 7 Days Free

Singapore races to build beds for COVID-19 patients as cases surge

Coronavirus Apr 26, 2020 01:20AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
20/20 © Reuters. A man walks past partitioned rooms at Changi Exhibition Centre which has been repurposed into a community isolation facility, in Singapore 2/20

By Edgar Su and John Geddie

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore is rapidly building bed space for coronavirus patients in cavernous exhibition halls and other temporary facilities as it faces a surge in cases, mainly among its large community of low-paid migrant workers.

The tiny city-state of 5.7 million people has over 12,000 confirmed infections of the virus that causes COVID-19, one of the most in Asia, due to outbreaks in cramped dormitories housing over 300,000 mainly South Asian workers.

One such facility at Changi Exhibition Centre - home to the Singapore Airshow, Asia's biggest aerospace gathering - could eventually house over 4,000 patients recovering from the disease and those with mild symptoms.

"The entire process of setting up the infrastructure took six days," Joseph Tan, a member of the organizing committee for the temporary facility, told Reuters on a visit.

The first patients, mainly from Bangladesh and India, were moved on Saturday into the vast conference hall, partitioned into rooms for eight to 10 people, with metal beds, plastic storage drawers and fans.

Singapore trails only China, India, Japan and Pakistan in Asia for the number of coronavirus infections. More than 10,000 of those infected, some 80% of its total, are foreign workers, many of whom have been placed in "isolation facilities" for people with mild symptoms such as the conference centers.

Despite the high total of cases, Singapore has reported 12 deaths and 24 people are in intensive care.

Singapore's young overseas laborers, earning as little as $15 a day, live in dormitories with bunk-bed accommodation in areas little visited by tourists to the modern city-state. Many are under government-ordered quarantines due to mass outbreaks, with workers left inside battling a constant fear of catching the virus.

At the new Changi isolation center, each room has blood-pressure monitors and other medical equipment for patients to conduct their own health checks three times daily, while remote-controlled robots provide meals and teleconferencing services to reduce contact.

Authorities are also trialing a four-legged robot dog built by Boston Dynamics at the facility, which they said could be used to deliver medicines to patients or take their temperature.

The indoor space can house 2,700 patients, while an ongoing outdoor extension will add another 1,700 beds. A nearby conference center called EXPO is already housing hundreds of COVID-19 patients.

Around 10,000 healthy workers in essential services have been moved from dormitories into alternative housing, including military camps, converted sports halls and accommodation ships for offshore workers, authorities say.

Rows of white huts are also being hurriedly assembled at the Tanjong Pagar shipping-container port. The facility could house up to 15,000 foreign workers, local media reported, but authorities have yet to decide how it will be used.

"We are continuing to explore additional space for various reasons, including facilities for suspect cases or infected workers, and also for workers who are recovering or who have fully recovered," a spokeswoman for the Ministry of National Development said in an emailed statement, adding that the Tanjong Pagar site was part of that plan.

Singapore races to build beds for COVID-19 patients as cases surge

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with other users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind:  

  •            Enrich the conversation, don’t trash it.

  •           Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed. 

  •           Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically. Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user. Racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination will not be tolerated.

  • Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases. Comments that are written in all caps and contain excessive use of symbols will be removed.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and comments containing links will be removed. Phone numbers, email addresses, links to personal or business websites, Skype/Telegram/WhatsApp etc. addresses (including links to groups) will also be removed; self-promotional material or business-related solicitations or PR (ie, contact me for signals/advice etc.), and/or any other comment that contains personal contact specifcs or advertising will be removed as well. In addition, any of the above-mentioned violations may result in suspension of your account.
  • Doxxing. We do not allow any sharing of private or personal contact or other information about any individual or organization. This will result in immediate suspension of the commentor and his or her account.
  • Don’t monopolize the conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also strongly believe in giving everyone a chance to air their point of view. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Post also to:
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Continue with Google
Sign up with Email