Health D-G rejects proposal to allow asymptomatic factory workers to cut short quarantine to return to work

Emmanuel Santa Maria Chin
·2-min read
Top Glove workers lining up outside workers’ dormitories to be taken to Covid-19 quarantine centres November 26,  2020. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Top Glove workers lining up outside workers’ dormitories to be taken to Covid-19 quarantine centres November 26, 2020. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 30 — Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has rejected the idea of a green work bubble to allow factory-workers that have tested negative and are still undergoing their 14-day quarantine to return to work early.

The Health Ministry director-general explained that the ministry’s apprehension to allow these workers to cut short their quarantine period was mostly due to the very nature of the Covid-19 infection which has a 14-day incubation period.

He warned that if this requirement was breached, a repeat of the Sivagangga cluster that was detected in Kedah — caused by a patient-under-investigation who breached his home surveillance order, could happen.

“There is a proposal for us to allow those quarantined and those asymptomatic to return to work, and so the answer is, no.

“This is because we do not know when they will develop into a positive case because the Covid-19 incubation period is 14-days, and if they return back to work they could infect the whole factory if they end up becoming positive later on.

“Remember the case in the Sivagangga cluster, the index case, he was negative and under quarantine and still returned to work and like that they can infect the whole community,” he said.

The Sivagangga cluster that was detected in late July had infected a total of 45 people, with the index case turning out to be the owner of a nasi kandar restaurant in Napoh, Kuang Pasu who breached his quarantine order after returning from Sivagangga, a town in Tamil Nadu, India.

“Learning from that case is a good example of why we do not allow them to call it a ‘green bubble’ or to work during the quarantine period,” he added.

Infections from the Sivagangga cluster had spread across three states including Penang and Perlis, with the culprit later identified as one Nezar Mohamed Sabur Batcha who was later sentenced to five months’ jail and RM12,000 fine by the Magistrate’s Court on Aug 13.

Nezar also currently faces a lawsuit from the Kedah Consumers Association (CAKE) over lost revenue caused by restrictions enforced in the state to curb the spread of Covid-19 infections that was brought upon by the Sivagangga cluster.

Related Articles Report: Newcastle game with Villa under threat due to coronavirus outbreak Vietnam urges vigilance after more cases linked to rare local outbreak 1,472 kes baharu Covid-19, kluster Teratai paling ramai