Dr Noor Hisham: Worker dorms still an unsolved puzzle in fight against Covid-19

Emmanuel Santa Maria Chin
·2-min read
Director-General of Health Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah at a daily press conference on Covid-19 statistics at the Ministry of Health, January 6, 2021. — Bernama pic
Director-General of Health Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah at a daily press conference on Covid-19 statistics at the Ministry of Health, January 6, 2021. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 25 — Manufacturing workers’ housing was among “fundamental issues” that must still be addressed before Malaysia could contain its Covid-19 situation, Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said today.

Speaking during a media briefing session held over Zoom this evening, the Health director general workplace clusters continued to be a major source of new infections despite authorities finding nearly full compliance with the standard operating procedures prescribed to the workplaces.

After work, however, he said the workers would return to tight living conditions that made it difficult to avoid infection if Covid-19 was already present.

Dr Noor Hisham said this blind spot was exposed during the conditional movement control order (CMCO) at the end of last year.

“The CMCO then had managed to control the infection as the social, education and sport sectors were not allowed to operate.

“Then we see this third wave of infections is mainly caused by those within economic sectors.

“Why? We have fundamental issues which are not dealt with,” he said.

Dr Noor Hisham said in some instances, up to 30 workers were crammed into a single apartment unit, leaving no space to practice physical distancing.

In some instances, he said multiple workers would share the same bed, with some taking turns to sleep while the others were on their shifts.

“When we look in the factories, they follow the SOPs completely, but when the workers go back home, they share the apartment with up to 30 people.

“We need to look into a more targeted approach to identify the root cause and then tackle that cause,” he added.

The DG said the government was looking at the enforcing the Workers’ Minimum Standard of Housing and Amenities Act 2019 to compel employers to provide proper and acceptable standards or housing to their staff.

This after eight more workplace-related clusters were detected today across five states, as the country recorded 3,408 new Covid-19 infections.

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