COVID-19: MOH to intensify detection efforts among foreign workers


The Ministry of Health (MOH) will intensify efforts to detect COVID-19 infection among foreign workers, especially those in the red zone, in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, said Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah (picture).

He said that so far the MOH had screened 22,339 foreign workers, with 986 of them testing positive for COVID-19.

“As for foreign workers undergoing treatment at government hospitals, 457 of them are still in intensive care units (ICUs), 525 have recovered while four deaths have been recorded.

“Now (the MOH) has identified foreign workers as a target group (for detection efforts), so we will conduct tests especially on those in the red zone. There has been no report of foreign workers being infected in the green zone. We will carry out (the detection efforts) in the near future,” he said at the daily press conference on COVID-19 today.

He said that cramped living quarters was one of the reasons which contributed to the outbreak among foreign workers.

“The main problem is that they live in cramped conditions in houses or apartments, and they don’t just work in one sector. Some work in wholesale markets and some at construction sites. So, the issue is they all live together in cramped conditions and we need to carry out screenings,” he said.

Asked about the foreign workers who fled from a quarantine centre in Kuala Lumpur, Dr Noor Hisham said the MOH had already lodged a police report and that police were already tracking them down.

“What is certain is that they were quarantined despite not testing positive because they were exposed to others who were COVID-19 positive,” he said.  

Meanwhile, Dr Noor Hisham said the COVID-19 outbreak among the local community was still under control, thanks to the MOH’s targeted approach strategy.  

“We used this strategy on groups like the Seri Petaling, tahfiz and now foreign workers. These are the three targeted groups and we have identified their localities and will take action. 

“Today, we had 45 cases, still two digits and under control. If we look at the third phase of the Movement Control Order (MCO), we had already achieved two digits, we hope that in the next one week the numbers will decrease,” he said, while adding that what he meant by under control was that health facilities in the country would be able to handle and treat new cases.

He said the MOH expected the number of new COVID-19 cases recorded to be either one digit or remain at two digits by as early as May 12.

Although this is later than the original forecast of May 5, he was optimistic that the latest projection could be achieved and that what was important was that the pandemic was under control.   

Citing the success of South Korea and Taiwan in tackling the pandemic, he said Malaysians should emulate the action of their foreign counterparts in obeying the standard operating procedure (SOP).

“The people of these two countries adopted a high level of discipline and complied with the SOP… and they were successful and they also implemented measures such as Conditional MCO (CMCO).

“We hope Malaysians can do the same… so we can be successful (in tackling the pandemic),” he added.