Dr Noor Hisham: Undocumented migrants to be sent to MAEPS after escape attempt from Sungai Buloh Hospital

Jerry Choong
A general view of the low-risk Covid-19 quarantine and treatment centre at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang April 3, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

PUTRAJAYA, May 30 — The Health Ministry has decided to retransfer all 26 undocumented foreigners positive with Covid-19 from Sungai Buloh Hospital back to the temporary treatment centre at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS) after one of them attempted to escape custody.

Its director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said this meant, from now on, only Malaysians and documented foreign workers will be placed in the hospital.

“The illegal immigrants will now be placed at MAEPS, and hopefully, by doing so, we can improve the security situation. There, they will be provided with good treatment for them to head down the road to recovery,” he said during his daily Covid-19 press briefing today.

Dr Noor Hisham said that ordinarily when an undocumented worker is admitted for treatment at the hospital, they are usually handcuffed and accompanied by an Immigration Department officer.

“Somehow, the 26-year-old Bangladeshi managed to escape this morning. The nurses were doing their rounds when they realised he was missing.

“Subsequently, we alerted the police, Immigration Department and others. Thankfully, we managed to locate the individual, apprehend him and bring him back to the ward,” he said.

Similarly, the director-general said the ministry is looking into all possible angles to trace the origins of the Covid-19 cluster which emerged at the Immigration Department’s detention centres in Bukit Jalil and Semenyih.

“In terms of where the infection is coming from, it is possible that it could be derived from new detainees coming into the centre.

“Another possibility is it could be due to one of the staff such as a cleaner or caterer, who comes in and inadvertently infects the detainees.

“The main drive is to prevent such infections from occurring again. So from now on, we ensure that new detainees will be screened, and only allowed into the centres once they are deemed negative of Covid-19,” Dr Noor Hisham said.

He added the ministry is also seeking to improve both detention centres and prisons where overcrowding commonly occurs, by looking into their respective operating procedures and to address the issue of compliance of the standard operating procedures among detainees and inmates.

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