HULU LANGAT, April 2 — Some companies in Selangor are reluctant to send their workers for regular Covid-19 screening because they fear factory closures in the event of positive cases, Bangi MP Ong Kian Ming said.
Factory workers, however, prefer to be tested for the coronavirus, even as clusters in factories comprised the largest proportion, or 39 per cent, of 298 Covid-19 clusters reported nationwide between last February 22 and March 31. A total of 117 factory clusters were detected in that period.
Ong, during a targeted community screening for Covid-19 in Hulu Langat district organised by the Selangor Task Force for Covid-19 (STFC) last Saturday, told CodeBlue that he had to liaise with many factory operators around the area of screening to let their workers get tested for Covid-19. While some agreed to send their workers for Covid-19 screening, some were hesitant.
“The thing that many factory owners are afraid of is you come and test and then, if let’s say you get positive cases, they can close the kilang. That’s the worst thing,” Ong said.
Effective January 1 this year, the government, through the Social Security Organisation (Socso), has made it mandatory for all foreign workers to undergo one-time Covid-19 screening using the RTK-Ag test. However, a single negative test result does not protect one from Covid-19; it only shows that the tested individual did not have the virus at the time their sample was taken.
Meanwhile, two employees from Leivy Laboratories, a medical laboratory based in Kampung Baru, Balakong, said that they prefer to be tested for Covid-19 and are aware of the importance of getting tested.
“My factory is crowded so I want to make sure that I don’t infect my family. This is for my protection and for everyone else’s protection,” Nur Faezzah Razali, a clerk from Leivy Laboratories, told CodeBlue.
She said her employers have made it mandatory for all foreigners working in the company to get tested and has encouraged Malaysian staff to also get tested.
Freddy Hong, who is in charge of quality control at Leivy Laboratories, said although workers practice social distancing in the factory, he still finds it necessary to get tested.
“Although I don’t have symptoms, I know it’s important to get tested as long as Covid-19 is around,” Hong said.
Both Hong and Nur Faezzah have signed up for Covid-19 vaccination.
Community programme administrator for STFC, Dr Nurul Solihin Nurul Hasnan, said in a day, SFTC conducts Covid-19 screening — either in the community or at factories, depending on the area — at two to four places throughout Selangor, each targeting 500 to 1,000 people.
Since last February, each screening session has a positivity rate of below 5 per cent. A positivity rate, or share of tests that are positive, of 5 per cent or less is one indicator for sufficient screening.
However, the doctor said over the past one month, the number of people turning up for Covid-19 screening has gone down.
“Turnout seems to be a decreasing pattern due to the vaccine and also people are less worried about Covid-19 nowadays,” Dr Solihin told CodeBlue.
“We are still hoping to do this test every weekend and we still encourage people to come despite the vaccination.”
During a community Covid-19 screening held in Taman Bukit Belimbing, Seri Kembangan, on March 27, a total of 324 people came for tests, comprising 10.6 per cent of the local population of 3,065 people.
Three individuals were tested positive with RTK-Ag and will be asked to go for the confirmatory RT-PCR test. This translates to a positivity rate of 0.93 per cent.
Dr Ahmad Munawwar Helmi Salim, who is the main coordinator for the Covid-19 screening drive in Selangor, said that for each screening drive, they will require 30 staff, comprising health care professionals and non-health care professionals for registration, taking the swab, and processing the samples.
Most of their health care professionals are from SelCare, a Selangor government subsidiary clinic with 16 clinics around the Klang Valley that helps SFTC conduct Covid-19 screenings.
However, Dr Ahmad Munawwar said because SelCare operates general practitioner (GP) clinics, most of them have yet to get vaccinated.
“No appointment date (given) yet,” Dr Ahmad Munawwar said, when asked if SelCare GPs have been given a date to get the Covid-19 vaccine.
All but one district in Selangor, Sabak Bernam, are classified red, with most reporting hundreds of Covid-19 infections in the past fortnight.