KUALA LUMPUR, April 18 — Food delivery companies may be required to bear the cost of their workers’ Covid-19 screenings at public or private clinics, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said today.
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said MOH so far does not have data on how many food delivery riders have been infected with coronavirus.
“About food delivery, if they’re registered companies, the company is responsible for the employee. So maybe payment will come from the company, but we encourage them to come to clinics to get screened,” Dr Noor Hisham told a press conference.
He noted that super-spreaders could infect many people, including food delivery riders. Such workers also risk getting Covid-19 infection when they deliver food.
“We have to make sure they’re safe in performing their duty. So we encourage them to come forward to do health screenings, whether at public health or private clinics. Maybe we’ll also do tests there if needed. We’ll discuss the best methods.”
Senior Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said yesterday that the government has decided to make it mandatory for food delivery riders to get health screenings at either government or private clinics during the third phase of the Movement Control Order (MCO).
Senior International Trade and Industry Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali also said recently that all workers of companies allowed to operate during the third phase of the MCO are required to undergo Covid-19 screening at any of the Social Security Organisation’s (Socso) over 3,000 panel clinics nationwide.
Dr Noor Hisham said today that businesses running essential services during the first two phases of the MCO were already required to follow MOH guidelines, adding that screenings would be conducted for workers from additional economic sectors allowed to reopen during the third phase of the partial lockdown.
The businesses reopening during the third phase of the MCO from April 15 to April 28 are estimated to have 400,000 workers approved to operate during the lockdown.
“If we look at MCO 3, if there are sectors that want to be considered for operation, they have to follow MOH guidelines,” he said, citing a prohibition on mass gatherings in such industries, following safe distancing, frequent hand washing, and sanitisation of pantries or other common areas in factories.
“But we need to look into the priority areas — priority areas we’ll allow and screen first. MOH will work with other agencies to make sure the factory or sector can comply with regulation of MOH. We’ll start in stages.
“This is where within these two weeks, we believe the cases, although well controlled, it’s not over yet. We have not won the war yet. Life goes on, but we have to manage our environment as well as our situation well. These are our challenges.”
Doctors’ groups have suggested using antibody or antigen rapid test kits with minutes-long turnaround times, compared to PCR laboratory test results that take 24 to 48 hours, for the 400,000 newly approved workers during the third phase of the MCO.