Putrajaya dedicates MAEPS as quarantine zone for undocumented migrants with Covid-19

Yiswaree Palansamy


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

KUALA LUMPUR, May 25 — Detainees at Immigration detention centres who contract Covid-19 will be housed and treated at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS) that will now be exclusive to the group, Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said today.

In his daily security press briefing, the defence minister said all Immigration detainees who are positive for Covid-19 will be isolated and quarantined at MAEPS to prevent the disease from spreading to other undocumented migrants.

He added that a secure perimeter has been set up around the expo centre to prevent possible escape attempts.

“As we know, there have been quite a number of Covid-19 positive cases among PATI detainees in immigration depots, that are from three depots, namely, the Bukit Jalil immigration depot, Semenyih immigration depot and KLIA or Sepang immigration depot, and those found to be positive in the three depots, will be sent to the quarantine and Covid-19 treatment centre in MAEPS.

“MAEPS will be made a quarantine centre especially for PATI, who were found to be positive for Covid-19 in the depots. So we separate them from their other friends in the depots. This is to ensure there is no Covid-19 spread among the other detainees in the depots,” he added.

PATI is the Malay acronym for ‘pendatang asing tanpa izin’, or undocumented migrants.

During the press conference, Ismail Sabri added that the local patients, who were being treated in MAEPS, have all been transferred to Sungai Buloh Hospital.

“We don’t want to mix our citizens with PATI,” he said

Ismail Sabri said that there are a total of 4,342 detainees at the three immigration depots, with 1,654 in Semenyih, 1,334 in Bukit Jalil and 1,358 in Sepang.

On a separate development, Ismail Sabri said that 299 Malaysians returned to the country yesterday, and have been placed under mandatory quarantine, while 33,092, to date, have returned home after completing their mandatory self-isolation.

Earlier, Health director-general (D-G) Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah called for immediate medical attention and decontamination at immigration detention centres where Covid-19 has emerged, stressing that foreigners should not be discriminated against in terms of healthcare.

In a brief Facebook post, Dr Noor Hisham said the urgent remedial steps should be taken to isolate and treat detainees in immigration depots with Covid-19 and for their close contacts to be quarantined.

Dr Noor Hisham’s Facebook post comes after the Health Ministry detected three new clusters in immigration depots over the past few days.

Immigration depots and prisons are among the locations most at risk of Covid-19 outbreaks due to overcrowding that prevents effective social distancing measures.

On May 21, the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced a new Covid-19 cluster at the Bukit Jalil immigration detention centre where 35 out of 645 individuals tested positive on that day, with 400 others testing negative and 210 pending then. The 35 new cases made up the bulk of 50 new cases detected on that day in Malaysia

On May 22, the Bukit Jalil immigration depot cluster’s numbers grew to 60, as 25 more Covid-19 positive cases were detected there on this day. The 25 new cases were part of 78 new cases detected in Malaysia on that day.

On May 23, the Health Ministry announced a new cluster at the Semenyih immigration detention centre where 21 Covid-19 cases were detected there. This figure is part of the 48 detected in the country that day.

For the 60 new cases detected yesterday, a total of 28 were found at the Semenyih immigration detention centre, while six were found in the latest cluster of the Sepang immigration detention centre.

This means that, as of yesterday, the number of Covid-19 cases that had been detected at the three immigration depots are: Bukit Jalil depot (60), Semenyih depot (49), Sepang immigration depot (six).

The discovery of new Covid-19 clusters at immigration depots comes after a recent spate of immigration crackdowns and raids on undocumented migrants and foreigners.

Related Articles After rare silence, Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar prepares to reopen DBKL to keep up inspection of KL Wholesale Market to ensure compliance with Covid-19 mitigation measures Japan eyes fresh US$1.1t stimulus to combat pandemic pain