KUALA LUMPUR, May 4 — The government has decided to require all migrant workers to undergo Covid-19 testing, with costs borne by their employers, despite the pandemic financially hitting Malaysian businesses hard.
Senior Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said migrant workers were found to be the main contributors to the increase in positive Covid-19 cases in the past two days.
As such, the compulsory Covid-19 swab testing extends to migrant workers across various sectors, including construction, manufacturing, commercial, and eateries.
“The costs of these screenings are to be borne by their employers. The Ministry of Health has suggested starting the swab tests in the Federal Territories and Selangor,” Ismail Sabri told a press conference today.
The Edge reported earlier last month that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have been facing cash flow problems, and potential closures and retrenchments during the nationwide Movement Control Order (MCO) that brought the economy to a standstill since it was imposed on March 18. The seven-week lockdown was partially lifted today under the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) that allowed most businesses to resume.
Authorities have closed a construction site in Ampang here after detecting 28 Covid-19 cases as of today.
Ismail Sabri said today that to prevent an outbreak, the government will proceed to immediately shut down businesses and premises upon findings of any positive Covid-19 cases within those workplaces.
As of August 31, 2019, Malaysia registered a total of 1.99 million migrant workers under the Temporary Visiting Work Permit (Pas Lawatan Kerja Sementara), as reported by The Edge. However, undocumented foreign workers largely outnumber documented ones, with The Edge estimating 2.5 undocumented migrant workers for every documented one.
“The Extended Movement Control Orders (EMCO) at Menara City One, Malayan Mansion, Selangor Mansion, and the surroundings of Jalan Masjid India, ended last night,” Ismail Sabri said, referring to areas with predominantly immigrant residents.
“That is three groups of residents that are free to move. Since the EMCO ended, there is no place for the undocumented migrant workers to go, and that is why authorities transferred them to immigration depots,” he explained.
The National Human Rights Commision of Malaysia (Suhakam) and human rights group Amnesty International Malaysia have condemned the recent arrest of undocumented migrants as a violation of human rights. Suhakam said such large-scale arrests would only deter migrant workers from coming forward for Covid-19 testing.
Amnesty International denounced the detention of refugees and migrants on the large as an abuse of power, claiming that detainees were not provided with face masks for their health protection and that the practice of social distancing was impossible in small vans transporting them.
According to Ismail Sabri, the EMCO at Pusat Bandar Utara here that is close to the Kuala Lumpur wholesale market in Selayang was lifted yesterday at Parcels A and B. However, parcels C, D, E and F will continue to abide by the EMCO until May 12 on the advice of the Health Minister.
The EMCO at Tafiz An-Nabawi and a house in Kampung Sungai Lui, Hulu Langat is set to end tomorrow on May 5.
As for the EMCO implemented in Salayang Baru Gombak, the total lockdown on Parcels A and B ended yesterday, while Parcels C, D, E and F will continue with the EMCO until May 12.