MOH mulls Covid-19 screening at all detention centres, including jails, over fears of new outbreak in Malaysia

Kenneth Tee
A general view of the Immigration Detention Centre at Bukit Jalil May 25, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, May 26 — With three immigration detention depots nationwide reporting fresh Covid-19 outbreaks, the Health Ministry said it was looking into screening every individual currently incarcerated at other detention centres or risk a surge in new cases.

Labelling the detention centres as a high-risk area, Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah warned that it was crucial for the ministry to look at other detention centres such as prisons due to the fear of an emerging outbreak.

“What is important for us now is to focus not only on immigration detention centres, but also look into prisons and other detention centres. This is important because we realise if there is an outbreak in a detention centre, then this is exactly what we expect in the next couple of days, an increase of cases.

“So what we have to do is to screen everyone. Those positive we will isolate them in our hospital, those negative we will quarantine them for 14 days,” he said during his daily Covid-19 press briefing here.

This follows after Covid-19 outbreaks were reported in three immigration detention depots — Bukit Jalil, Sepang and Semenyih — involving 383 non-Malaysians currently confined there.

To date, the Bukit Jalil immigration depot tops the list at 281 individuals testing positive for Covid-19 with 115 new cases reported today.

He also said all detainees placed in the immigration detention depots are screened for any infections in accordance with the directive issued by the Immigration Department’s director-general.

However, Dr Noor Hisham said the Health Ministry would also provide Covid-19 screening for staff assigned to managing all three depots following the risk of infection in these areas.

There are 14 immigration detention depots nationwide, with four temporary detention centres in Sabah.

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