Around 1.4 lakh Bangladeshi workers in Singapore have been facing increased pressure as the number of coronavirus (now named Covid-19) infected workers there continues to increase.
Singapore has already hospitalised two Bangladeshi coronavirus infected workers and quarantined nine others.
The Ministry of Health of Singapore said the new cases brought the number of coronavirus patients to 47.
The Bangladeshi workers said they were working in a relaxed environment before some people were diagnosed with coronavirus. Chinese and Bangladeshi workers are now under strict surveillance in their workplaces and dormitories.
Md Alauddin, a Bangladeshi construction worker, told The Business Standard over mobile phone, "We have been facing many difficulties, especially since Monday. My company did not allow Chinese workers to come to work for a couple of days.
"Finally they were allowed in the workplace, but now they have to take cautionary measures more strictly than other workers. Bangladeshi workers have also been asked to use the precautionary measures that Chinese workers use, to ensure safety."
"Workers from countries other than China and Bangladesh are still working in a relaxed condition. They can move around easily. But the companies have imposed huge restrictions on us," he said.
Md Rubel, an engineer working in Singapore, told The Business Standard that the country has asked all workers to measure their temperature at least twice a day, and check for any respiratory symptoms frequently. But the companies measure the temperature of Bangladeshi workers five to seven times a day, and check respiratory symptoms several times a day.
Workers housed in the dormitory at Kaki Bukit, where the first Bangladeshi coronavirus patient was found, have been asked to stay away from the workplace out of fear of spreading the virus. But from Tuesday they were asked not to leave their dormitories at all.
"Actually we are now in a prison. No one can leave the dormitory. The restrictions escalated after the second coronavirus infected worker was found," Ibrahimn Khan, a worker who lives in the dormitory in Kaki Bukit, said.
Rush for air tickets
Several hundred workers thronged to travel agencies in recent days to buy air tickets to return to Bangladesh, which caused a hike in the price of tickets. Many workers could not get a ticket, even at the higher price.
However, Mia Mashuk and six of his fellow workers did get tickets to fly to Bangladesh.
"My parents have been pressurising me to leave Singapore. I am also afraid of staying here. That is why I bought the air ticket even though the price was far higher than normal," he said.
"Not just the workers at my company, many other workers are also ready to go to Bangladesh," he added.
Mostafizur Rahman, the Bangladesh high commissioner to Singapore told The Business Standard that they are in regular contact with the Bangladeshi community there and the Singapore health department.
"We have been visiting Bangladeshis living here and explaining how to safeguard themselves from the coronavirus," he said over the phone.
Singapore relaxes leave rules
The Ministry of Manpower of Singapore has asked companies to adopt a relaxed policy if any worker wants to go back home.
"Treat employees as if they are on paid hospitalisation leave or paid outpatient sick leave, allow employees to apply for annual leave, allow employees to use advanced paid leave or apply for no pay leave, for employees who have used up their leave entitlements," the MOM directed.