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Health DG: Increasing Covid-19 Cases Amongst Foreigners A Wake Up Call For Malaysia

Health DG: Increasing Covid-19 Cases Amongst Foreigners A Wake Up Call For Malaysia

Kirat Kaur

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Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has called upon Malaysians to work together to solve the issues related to the recent Covid-19 outbreak amongst foreign nationals in the country.

Pointing out the number of reported daily cases, he says it shows an increasing trend surpassing projected Covid-19 case figures due to the infections among non-Malaysians in several Immigration Detention Centres and workers in various economic sectors.

This means that Malaysia is facing a new threat that we need to tackle together i.e. the increasing number of Covid-19 cases amongst non-Malaysians. However, these non-Malaysians cannot be ignored or stigmatised by fellow Malaysians. In fact, we need to assist them so that we can reduce the transmission of Covid-19 infection in our country.

Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, Health Director-General.
Credit: @KKMPutrajaya/Twitter

The Health DG explained that the presence of these non-Malaysian workers has helped strengthen the economy of the country, and now we need to identify and find solutions to address the virus that’s now ravaging the workers and their families.

It is our joint responsibility to ensure that the Covid-19 transmission chain in Malaysia can be broken.

Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, Health Director-General.

At the daily Covid-19 briefing on Monday, Dr Noor Hisham called for the government, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), civil society, the community, employers and embassies to improve the conditions of foreign workers to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the country.

He laid out four key measures to address the issue:

  1. Address the problem of cramped and overcrowded living quarters in accordance with the Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990 (Act 446) immediately to prevent it from becoming a source of Covid-19 transmission and other infectious diseases.
  2. Non-Malaysian workers (especially in the construction and security sectors) in all Red Zones must be screened for Covid-19 as directed by the Government. In addition, non-Malaysian workers from the Yellow Zones and the Green Zones are encouraged to be screened based on their respective employers’ initiative.
  3. Embassies for the workers’ country of origin and NGOs are urged to work together to ensure that the most effective communication methods can be used to reach out to these non-Malaysian workers. This is to ensure that the latest Covid-19 updates and guidelines are communicated directly to these workers.
  4. Employers are responsible for educating their non-Malaysian workers on the recommended good hygiene practices to break the Covid-19 transmission chain. Employers must also ensure that their workers’ living quarters comply with the SOP such as social distancing, cleanliness, and no crowding or cramping of workers.
The narrow corridor in the apartment where 9 Bangladeshis live in this May 2020 image.
(Credit: Shafwan Zaidon/Malay Mail)

However, Malay Mail reports that the 1st June 2020 enforcement date of the amended Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990 has been postponed to 31st August.

Human Resource Minister Datuk M. Saravanan Saravanan said that the 3-month delay was to give employers time to make the necessary preparations.

Amendments to the Act passed in Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara in July 2019 included covering the housing and accommodation for workers in all sectors across Peninsular Malaysia and Labuan.

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