While the initiative is good, the execution leaves much to be desired.
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The Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan announced today that the Social Security Organisation (SOCSO) will be extending aid in the form of free Covid-19 screening tests.
The aid will be offered via the Prihatin Screening Programme (PSP) to employers who are in areas affected by the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) and made available for their employees.
What this means is that employers can do “free” Covid-19 testing for their employees via this programme.
Saravanan went on to list a couple of conditions for employers to actually utilize the free screening:
- Appointments must be made by the employer
- An Appendix 1 form must be completed and submitted to the service panel
- Tests must be taken at designated clinics to redeem the free tests
- All tests completed and taken at these designated clinics will be completely FREE and fully borne by SOCSO
However, if employers want the tests to be conducted at a laboratory other than the listed designated clinics, there is a subsidy for that as well.
Employers will be required to submit an application for the Covid-19 Screening Subsidy through this website first.
Then, the employer will need to pay for the costs beforehand before claiming from SOCSO. SOCSO will then make a subsidy repayment of up to RM150 per employee who has undergone the Covid-19 screening.
To claim the subsidy, receipt of payment stating the name of the employee being screened must be provided.
However, most private Covid-19 tests begin around the RM200+ mark, which means that if employers choose not to make appointments with the designated clinics, they will still end up forking out a small amount per employee to get them checked.
Additionally, there are only 14 listed designated clinics (10 in KL and Selangor), all of them by laboratory company BP Healthcare, which brings to question the monopoly placed on these screening tests as well as the clinics’ capacity to do mass screening of this size.
This is what happens when PERKESO has only one provider to do COVID PCR. Hundreds lining up in the heat to get screened & allowed to work. Hope PERKESO adds more to their panel ASAP. Just get list of accredited Covid screening providers from CKAPS 🤷🏻♀️ pic.twitter.com/rqhYddBBQ7— Nadiah Wan (@lapetitemaligne) May 5, 2020
Although the tests can now be conducted either at the clinics or onsite, there still remains a question of how many employers can realistically utilize the free Covid-19 testing service with the designated clinics.
Anne is an advocate of sustainable living and the circular economy, and has managed to mum-nag the team into using reusable containers to tapau food. She is also a proud parent of 4 cats and 1 rabbit.