COVID-19 tests made compulsory for all foreign workers in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian government has ordered all foreign workers in the country to undergo compulsory COVID-19 testing, with their employers footing the bill.

In a press conference on Monday (May 4), Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said that all foreign workers, regardless of the sector they work in, will need to be swabbed.

“For two days in a row, there has been an increase in COVID-19 positive cases in Malaysia and it has been found that many of them were foreign workers working at a construction site in Ampang,” he said.

He was referring to a new cluster announced by the Ministry of Health on Sunday, where 28 foreign nationals were tested positive for the virus.

Ismail Sabri Mar 19

Malaysia’s Senior Minister and Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob speaks at a press conference in Putrajaya on Mar 19, 2020. (Photo: Bernama)

“In order to curb the spread of the virus, the Works Department has closed the affected construction site. As a preventive measure, the government has agreed to make it compulsory for all foreign workers in all sectors to be screened and tested for COVID-19.

“This will be applied to foreign workers in all sectors including construction, restaurants and commercial services. It has been suggested by the Health Ministry for the compulsory screening to begin in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor first,” the minister said.

Mr Ismail Sabri added that as a preventive measure, the government would close down any facility found with workers who are positive for the virus.

“Regardless of what sector it is, if we find even one positive case, the facility would be closed immediately,” he said.

READ: Malaysia detains hundreds of refugees and migrants during COVID-19 lockdown: Rights groups

Malaysia has seen a surge of cases over the last few days. On Saturday, there were 105 positive cases while on Sunday there were 122. 

Health Ministry director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah said on Saturday that around 3,300 migrant workers have been tested for COVID-19.

He said the ministry had carried out three swab tests on each of the 3,300 individuals over the past two weeks.

Dr Noor Hisham said that of the 3,300 foreign workers, 586 were undocumented and that they have been removed from the community.

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