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Coronavirus

Singapore's entry ban on India worsens COVID labor crunch

Grueling workloads raise safety concerns while shortage pushes up wages

Singapore relies heavily on migrant workers from South Asia to perform labor-intensive jobs like construction and shipbuilding. (Photo by Ken Kobayashi)

SINGAPORE -- A coronavirus-induced labor shortage is deepening in Singapore, where fears of explosive outbreaks in South Asia prompted the government to cut off flows of workers the city-state relies on.

Foreign nationals comprise about a third of the total workforce in Singapore. Sectors such as construction and shipbuilding depend heavily on low-cost labor from India and Bangladesh, in particular. But even before the authorities stopped entries from India in late April and other South Asian nations in early May, departures and tighter travel rules were keeping foreign workers away.

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