X.R.GOH1, F ISHRAQ2, FM NOORUL AMIN ALAWDEEN2, GHZ CHUA2, DEH YEO3, JI ROTGANS2, RL DAVID2, KY THAM3
MOH Holdings Pte Ltd (MOHH)1, Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine2, Tan Tock Seng Hospital3
Migrant workers (MW) represent a vulnerable population affected by COVID-19, in Singapore where they formed 93.2% of its COVID-19 cases. This study aims to explore the concerns of MWs during the outbreak.
From July to September 2020 a self-administered survey took place with focus-group interviews. Data on physical, psychological and socioeconomic concerns was collected and analysed. Interviews conducted over Zoom in Bengali, Chinese and Tamil explored these concerns and data was thematically analysed.
There were 1132 survey respondents and 15 interviewees. Those infected with COVID-19 experienced greater reduction in self-reported health status (SRHS) and were less concerned about hospital bill payment and unemployment. Those without COVID-19 had significant concerns about their living conditions. Overall stress level was low without any difference between those with and without COVID-19 infection. Sources of stress included concerns for their families’ health, reduced remittance, and the negative impact of quarantine. Nationality, self-reported English proficiency and familiarity with communication channels were key modifiers of stress. Multi-level coping strategies were helpful.
The outbreak and ensuing containment measures led to a drop in the MWs’ health status. They appreciated the safety nets that took care of their physical and mental health, jobs and basic income. Those with lower English proficiency felt disadvantaged in their access to information. The next iteration of the pandemic response plan must include MWs and their needs. Proactive screening, isolation, vaccination and improving their living environment are key in terminating the current and preventing the next outbreak.