Socso Paying For Migrant Workers’ Covid-19 Tests: Minister

Ismail Sabri Yaakob says about 60% of foreign workers contribute to Socso.

KUALA LUMPUR, May 5 — The Social Security Organisation (Socso) will bear the cost of Covid-19 screening for migrant workers, as most of them contribute to the fund, Ismail Sabri Yaakob said today.

The senior defence minister also clarified today that mandatory Covid-19 swab testing for migrant workers would begin with the construction sectors in the Federal Territories and Selangor.

“About 60 per cent of these foreigners are contributors to Socso and so, the cost of their Covid-19 swab tests can be the responsibility of Socso,” said Ismail Sabri at a press conference today, when asked to comment on testing cost concerns.

“We came out with this new instruction because we are worried about new clusters from migrant workers. As for the past three days, for as long as two consecutive days, an increase in positive Covid-19 cases were found in a new cluster of predominantly migrant workers, in which the construction site was closed,” he explained.

Ismail Sabri announced yesterday the costs related to mandatory Covid-19 testing for all migrant workers would be borne by their employers, potentially posing a financial burden on businesses that are already suffering from this pandemic.

The Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) reportedly said that employers would be spending as much as RM1 billion if they are solely responsible for the cost of Covid-19 swab tests for their migrant employees, as cited by Free Malaysia Today.

Ismail Sabri also announced that to monitor and enforce compliance with the standard operating procedures (SOP) of the relaxed Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) nationwide, the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) has formed an Operation Compliance Task Force, which consists of 14 agencies that are authorised by the Ministry of Health (MOH) for the implementation of CMCO compliance.

The 14 agencies include the Royal Malaysia Police, Malaysian Armed Forces, Malaysian Civil Defence Force, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, The People’s Volunteer Corps, Immigration Department Malaysia, Public Works Department, Road Transport Department, National Security Council, Department of Labour, Department of Occupational Safety and Health, Ministry of International Trade and Industry, Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, and Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs.

The defence minister also noted that the number of members of the Operation Compliance Task Force will increase with recruitments of other agencies, such as the Malaysian Construction Industry Development.

“We do not want what happened in Singapore with the migrant workers to happen here. I hope that employers can understand our decision to take care of the health of Malaysians,” Ismail Sabri said today.

“If there are cases among migrant workers, the company or premise would be closed down.”

Singapore was once thought to have the Covid-19 pandemic under control and was even praised for their “success” in “flattening the curve” of Covid-19, but the sudden spike of Covid-19 cases in migrant dormitories used by construction workers, street cleaners, and sanitation workers showed the blind spot that was missed out by Singaporean authorities as they planned their response towards the Covid-19 pandemic, as reported by UCA News.

Singapore has reported nearly 19,000 coronavirus cases as of yesterday, including 18 fatalities.

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