Health D-G: Spread of Covid-19 among foreign workers down to cramped housing

Soo Wern Jun

A man is seen at the balcony of his flat unit in Selangor Mansion, Kuala Lumpur April 11, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, May 10 — The Ministry of Health has made foreign workers a target group for compulsory Covid-19 screening and testing due the congested environment in their accommodations.

Its director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said health authorities have found foreign workers sometimes forced to occupy a single unit apartment in large numbers, some up to 30 people.

“For example, if we look at Selangor Mansion, Malayan Mansion and Menara City One, one apartment unit could fit up to 30 workers.

“Same goes to the Setia Alam construction site where 15 foreign workers occupy an apartment.

“The congestion in the apartment could be the cause of virus spreading,” he said in his daily briefing.

Dr Noor Hisham was commenting on reporters question regarding foreign workers categorised as a target group for Covid-19 screening and testing.

He however said, for locations which have the enhanced movement control order (EMCO) enforced screening and testing is done on all — regardless of whether they are Malaysians or not.

“For example, the Jalan Othman wet market, we estimate about 2,900 people in the area.

“Whether they are Malaysians or not, we are conducting screening and tests on all depending on the locality of the market,” he said.

A shop and rumah kongsi in Setia Alam is sealed by the Ministry of Health after three migrant workers tested positive for Covid-19 May 10, 2020. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

He added that this has been the practice once MOH has detected a cluster and they have been able to contained spreading of the disease.

When asked if there was any need for an EMCO to be enforced in Setia Alam, Dr Noor Hisham said the situation is under control and there was no need to an EMCO.

“What is important is that we continue to monitor the site and conduct active surveillance,” he said.

Meanwhile, when asked about the breakdown of foreign workers detected at Jalan Othman wet market, Dr Noor Hisham said it would take about 10 days for MOH to conduct investigations on the area.

“We advise all residents to stay at home, and most importantly protect the elderly.

“Active case detection, screening and test are conducted among residents to identify positive cases.

“Once we identify a positive case, we can isolate and treat,” he said.

The MOH reported 67 new Covid-19 positive cases today with 49 being non-Malaysians.

There were no deaths reported.

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