Health DG: No infection cluster formation among foreign workers in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR (April 17): Malaysia has yet to see any significant cluster of Covid-19 infections among foreign workers in the country, according to the Ministry of Health.

Towards this, MoH director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the ministry has been working collaboratively with non-government organisations (NGOs), such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Mercy Malaysia, to ensure foreign workers and refugees are protected under the Covid-19 preventive and control measures undertaken by the government.

"So far we have not seen a cluster formation [among foreign workers], but the screenings are actually a continuous process," he told reporters during his daily update on the Covid-19 situation in the country.

For instance, Noor Hisham said the ministry has conducted screenings on 465 individual foreign workers in Pasar Borong Kuala Lumpur in Selayang. From that group, 13 cases, or about 3%, came out positive.

Pasar Borong Kuala Lumpur, the country's biggest wholesale market, was noted to have recorded two positive cases on April 1. This prompted the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) to close the market the next day to carry out sanitisation work.

The two positive cases were both vegetable traders, but their source infection remains unclear.

"So we will continue to enhance our services in terms of the screening to trace, track, test, isolate and treat them as well," Noor Hisham said.

However, he said the issue is that many foreign workers are afraid to come forward to do the testing.

As such, the Ministry is considering conducting targeted testing in high-risk areas, such as areas where there is a high population of foreign workers, he said.

The concern over foreign workers arose as Singapore recorded a shocking 447 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, and over 90% of them were migrant workers. A total of 404 new cases were traced to its foreign worker dormitories. Singapore also identified four new clusters of infections on Wednesday, and three of them were from its foreign worker dormitories.

Noor Hisham previously said that foreign nationals who walk in for Covid-19 tests would not be charged regardless of their socio-economic background.

Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri has also urged foreign nationals to get tested if they exhibit any Covid-19 infection symptoms, even if they were undocumented immigrants.

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