A new COVID-19 cluster has been detected involving foreign workers at a cleaning company, said Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.
He said that as of noon yesterday, 24 positive cases were reported among the Bangladeshi workers at a private clinic carrying out the COVID-19 screening on the company’s staff.
“The screening is being conducted as an initiative by employers. Of the 150 foreign workers in the company who were screened, 126 tested negative for COVID-19.
“Of the 24 positive cases, 20, are staying at a hostel in Kuala Langat, Selangor and are being treated at Sungai Buloh Hospital, Selangor. Four other cases are staying in an apartment in Nilai, Negeri Sembilan and are being treated at the Tuanku Ja’afar Hospital, Seremban,” he told a daily press conference on the development of COVID-19 here yesterday.
He said preventive measures and precautions had been taken and so far 428 close contacts have been identified and would be screened.
Dr Noor Hisham said most of the clusters involving foreign nationals stemmed from crowded and cramped accommodations, where social distancing could not be maintained.
He said these conditions can lead to the spread of various infectious diseases including the COVID-19 outbreak.
In the meantime, he said the Health Ministry welcomed the announcement of Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan on May 27, on the amendment to the Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990 [Act 446]
“The amendment is aimed at improving the the Guidelines for Foreign Workers Accommodation 2018, provided by the Department of Labour Peninsular Malaysia.
“This issue needs to be addressed immediately because it will be difficult to adhere to the practice of social distancing if the accommodation of workers were not conducive,” he said.
He said the Health Ministry was still investigating the source of infection for the new cluster.
Following the discovery of the infection cluster, Dr Noor Hisham said the employers should continue to adhere to standard operating procedures (SOPs) including screening foreign workers so that outbreaks could be controlled.
“The employer should be commended for taking the initiative to have the workers screened for the virus, leading us to successfully detect the new cluster and preventing others from being infected,” he said.
“It is imperative for employers and the public as a whole to work with the Health Ministry to take action and detect more positive cases,” he said.
He again reminded employers to constantly educate their workers on sanitation and hygiene practices, preventive measures and to comply with SOPs outlined by the government.