Dr Noor Hisham: Confined spaces likely cause of Covid-19 clusters at immigration detention depots

Soo Wern Jun
Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah speaks during a press conference on Covid-19 in Putrajaya May 25, 2020. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, May 25 — Confined spaces at immigration detention depots could be a cause of Covid-19 spreading among detainees, Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said.

He said the Ministry of Health (MOH) is also looking at other detention centres, such as prisons and police station lockups, which also have confined spaces.

“There is a possibility that the high number of cases among immigration detainees is due to detention centres’ confined space. Investigations are ongoing.

“When space is confined, there is a higher probability that more can be infected by just one person with the virus,” he said during MOH’s daily briefing on Covid-19 today. 

He added that immigration officers who are stationed at the detention centres have also been isolated to ease medical staff’s screening and tests done on the officers.

“Immigration officers have been isolated for investigation.

“Isolating them will help ease the process of screening and tests done on immigration officers.

“The first thing needed to be done is to screen all three immigration detention depots,” he said, referring to immigration depots in Bukit Jalil, Sepang and Semenyih. 

Dr Noor Hisham was responding to reporters’ question on the steps taken to prevent immigration officers stationed at respective detention centres from contracting Covid-19.

He also stressed that the risk of infection is high at detention centres; hence, the situation at the respective detention centres is as though they are under lockdown orders.

“The risk of infection among detainees and immigration staff is high at detention centres.

“So it is like an enhanced movement control order has been enforced at the detention centres, where everyone, whether they are staff or detainees, will be screened and tested,” he said.

Decontamination is currently being done at the detention centres, Dr Noor Hisham said.

The country today recorded 172 new Covid-19 cases, with 112 local transmissions detected at three immigration detention depots.


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