PETALING JAYA: Foreign workers, especially those who are undocumented, should also be tested for Covid-19, especially if they are unwell.
Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president Dr N. Baskaran said more than 600 of those who have tested positive are foreign workers, making them a significant sub-group among those infected.
“If one of them is infected and is not isolated, it can lead to new clusters of infections,” he told theSun yesterday.
However, he agreed that these workers, especially those who are illegal or undocumented, fear the authorities and would not come forward even if they have been in contact with an infected person or a person under investigation.”
He said it would be best to test this group as monitoring and contact tracing efforts could be a challenge.
Baskaran added that the effort would require a multi-agency approach as well as the help from non-governmental organisations.
“We need to reassure them, and perhaps grant them amnesty for over-staying, to prevent the virus from spreading.”
Baskaran said employers should take the responsibility to educate their workers on preventing the spread of Covid-19.
Migrant Care coordinator Alex Ong said the most worrisome were those living in close quarters, such as dormitories or kongsis.
He found it perplexing that the government said there are only 200,000 foreign workers in the construction sector but industry players claim there are 600,000.
Ong said another problem is foreigners who work as cleaners.
“They move from house to house, so if one of them is infected, he can easily spread the virus.
“There is an urgent need to look into this.”
He said employers should be allowed to visit kongsis to pay workers their salaries and bring them food.
“This will ensure they do not leave their living quarters and spread the virus if they are already infected,” he added. – The Sun Daily