MoH ramps up Covid-19 screenings in immigration custody depots

By S BIRRUNTHA / pic by BERNAMA

The Health Ministry (MOH) is ramping up screenings and contact-tracing activities for Covid-19 in immigration custody depots following the identification of a new cluster. 

The ministry had detected another cluster of Covid-19 infections at the Bukit Jalil Immigration Detention Depot involving 35 positive cases today.

Health DG Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said all those who were positively identified were foreigners stationed at the detention centre.

“As of noon today, a total of 645 individuals were sampled and of these, 35 were positive, 400 were negative and 210 are still awaiting results.

The positive cases include 17 Myanmar citizens, 15 Indian citizens, one Sri Lankan, one Bangladeshi and one Egyptian,” he said in his daily Covid-19 updates.

Dr Noor Hisham added that the source of the cluster is still being investigated and the ministry has provided health services at all custody depots on a scheduled basis.

He said various control and prevention steps have been carried out, including decontamination activities, health education on personal hygiene, and the importance of social distancing.

In addition to Covid-19 screenings, he added that the ministry’s teams at the depots have also provided treatment for light ailments, early medical emergencies, and examinations for pregnant women, babies and children which include immunisation.

“Symptomatic screening and sampling will also be carried out to detect active cases, while positive cases will be isolated and treated in hospitals and close contact individuals will be monitored.

“We will continue to cooperate with the Immigration Department, the police and other government agencies, in managing any Covid-19 cases involving immigration custody depots,” he said.

Fifty new cases were recorded yesterday, involving three import cases, and 47 of them are local transmissions, in which 43 were non-locals.

Out of the total, 34 cases were detected at the Immigration Department’s custody depot in Bukit Jalil.

Among the active cases, 10 are placed in the intensive care unit, while seven require respiratory aid.

The increase in new cases has brought the current active cases to 1,149 and the country’s overall total to 7,059.

Similarly, 90 patients have recovered, increasing the percentage of the recovered cases to 82.1%, which equals to 5,796 as of today.

No new deaths have been recorded, maintaining the country’s death tally at 114.

Separately, the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has urged ministries concerned to tighten the monitoring of tertiary students who have been allowed to return home.

Its president Dr N Ganabaskaran said this is following the act of some tertiary students who violated the mandatory 14-day quarantine.

“This is an irresponsible act that can put many others in danger of getting infected with Covid-19. It was reported that some of these students are down with Covid-19.

“It is also disrespectful towards the freedom allowed by the Higher Education Ministry for the students to cross state borders to return home,” he said in a statement.

He also stressed that stricter enforcement may also be needed along state borders.

“MMA wishes to remind the public again that the Covid-19 pandemic is not yet over. The new norm of strict personal hygiene and social distancing must continue to be observed at all times,” he added.