Workplace clusters remain high amid drop in new daily Covid-19 cases

Harsher punishment against those violating SOPs from Thursday due to sharp rise in Covid-19 cases nationwide


NINE out of 14 new clusters were detected at workplaces yesterday, although Malaysia reported a drop in daily new Covid-19 cases with 4,214.

However, for the first time in weeks, the number of recovered patients exceeded new cases with 4,280 patients declared free from the virus.

Health DG Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah (picture) said in a statement that there are currently 401 active clusters, where 73 continued to record additional daily cases.

There were 48,074 active cases nationwide, with 316 patients are still in the Intensive Care Units (ICU) and 137 require respiratory aid.

Selangor reported the highest new daily cases of 1,362 cases (32.3%). Of these, 967 cases (71%) were from clusters and Covid-19 close contact screening.

This was followed by Johor with 1,068 cases (25.3%) and the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur with 702 cases (16.7%).

Dr Noor Hisham said a total of 115 cases (2.7%) reported were related to clusters in lockups, immigration detention depots and prisons.

Ten new deaths were recorded yesterday, pushing the number of total deaths in the country to 770.

Meanwhile, the government will implement the Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO) at Sg Udang prison and staff quarters in Melaka from Feb 3 until Feb 16.

Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said in a statement yesterday that as of Jan 31, 2021, the Ministry of Health has detected 113 positive Covid-19 cases there — 79 involved detainees, 22 staff and 12 family members — out of screening tests involving 339 individuals.

On the MCO, the minister said a total of 826 individuals were arrested for violating standard operating procedures (SOPs), where 776 were compounded and 50 individuals were remanded.

Among the offences recorded were failure to comply to social distancing (170), interstate and interdistrict travel without permission (158), not wearing face masks (128), leaving the house without solid reasons (69), business premises operating overtime/without permission (53) and other offences (248).

In a report by Bernama, Ismail Sabri was quoted as saying that the government will impose a harsher punishment against SOP violators from Feb 4 due to the sharp increase in Covid-19 cases nationwide.

He said the move will be made as a result of the high number of cases involving workers in the construction and manufacturing sectors.

“Both sectors (construction and factories) are among the top contributors of Covid-19 cases in the country.

“As we all know, we no longer have morning market and roadside stall clusters because we have SOPs set, apart from taking action based on the facts we have,” he said after inspecting a roadblock at Gombak toll plaza yesterday.

Ismail Sabri said all employers in both sectors throughout the country have been instructed to conduct Covid-19 screening tests on their foreign workers beginning today.

The minister said up to 6,641 foreign workers have undergone screening tests and 85 people were positive for the virus.

Cumulatively, as of Dec 1, 2020, 265,770 foreign workers have taken the test, whereby 4,867 people were confirmed positive, while another 260,903 were negative.

To date, a total of 890 clinics are involved in this screening programme.

Starting yesterday, the government will make it mandatory for all employers across the country to ensure their employees undergo screening tests with the costs borne by the respective employers.

Read our earlier report

EMCO at Sg Udang Prison and staff quarters from Wednesday