MMA: Impractical to test all foreign workers

KUALA LUMPUR (May 5): The Covid-19 test on all foreign workers may not be a practical approach for now and may turn into a logistical nightmare as businesses begin to resume operations, said the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA).

Its president Dr N Ganabaskaran said education and enforcement of the new norms and Standard Operation Procedures (SOP) more urgently is needed as a long-term solution.

"MMA believes that labs in the country may not be able to cope with the high volume of samples taken from workers to test for Covid-19 within a short time frame.

"It may also not be affordable for many businesses; many of which have suffered losses due to the temporary halt in operations under the Movement Control Order (MCO)," he said in a statement, today.

He said the MMA urges the related ministries to prioritise monitoring of sectors that rely on foreign labour as businesses are now starting to resume operations.

"Efforts should also be made to communicate and educate the new norm and SOPs in the language of these foreign workers to ensure they fully understand and fully adhere to the new norm practices," he said. 

He said the MMA also urged the authorities to work closely with the relevant non-government organisations (NGOs) in helping to reach them as some might fear the authorities and flee to other locations; making contact tracing more difficult in the event of Covid-19 infection.

"While this group of workers may be staying illegally in the country, one must remember that they too have a universal right to healthcare," he said.

He said MMA feels the targeted approach in testing, as adopted by Ministry Of Health (MOH) for hotspots could perhaps be taken for now.

"It must also be noted that a person can still be at risk of infection after testing if they do not observe proper preventive measures.

"We are more deeply concerned that foreign workers in the country can be at high risk of getting infected with COVID-19 due to their work environment and living conditions," he said.

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