Migrant Workers’ Unsanitary Living Conditions Contribute to Covid-19 Spike


PUTRAJAYA: Crowded, cramped and unhygienic living conditions have contributed to the spike in new Covid-19 clusters among migrant workers, undermining the government’s efforts to contain the pandemic.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said foreign workers live in large numbers in a confined space either at an apartment unit or at accommodations provided at construction sites.

“For example, If we look at Selangor Mansion, Malayan Mansion and Menara City One, authorities found close to 30 foreign workers living in a single unit apartment.

“Similarly, at construction sites, we see 15 people living in one unit. Thus, the congested environment in the unit could be one of the factors in the spread of Covid-19,” he said at a press conference, here, today.

Dr Noor Hisham said this while commenting on cluster cases involving foreign workers at the Setia Alam construction site and the chicken factory in Pedas, Negeri Sembilan.

He said to date, the government has screened 24,125 non-Malaysian citizens for Covid-19.

Of this, he said, 1,132 or 4.7 per cent were detected to be Covid-19 positive and 487 cases or 43 per cent are receiving treatment.

“Three foreigners are warded in the intensive care unit. A total of 641 foreigners had recovered from the infection, while four succumbed to the virus.

“The health authorities are still carrying out testing, especially at targeted areas under the Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO) where all residents, both Malaysians and foreigners will be screened and tested.

“We will carry out acute case detection where we will trace and track patients and close contacts. Those tested positive will be isolated and given treatment in hospitals, while close contacts will be quarantined for 14 days.”

On the Setia Alam construction site cluster, Dr Noor Hisham said the number of cases remained at 12.

“This means the situation is still under control since there are no new cases for now, thus there is no need for EMCO. We will continue with active surveillance and acute case detection to identify the close contacts of the 12 cases.”

As for the chicken factory cluster, he said, the factory has been closed and workers are being screened and tested for the virus.

“As of now, 768 close contacts have been identified and 131 have tested positive. Contact tracing activity is ongoing and cleaning and sanitising activities are being carried out.”

He urged all those who have come in contact with Covid-19 positive patients to come forward to be screened and tested.

On Pasar Jalan Othman in Petaling Jaya, Selangor and the three zones in the area placed under the EMCO, he advised residents to stay at home and protect the elderly.

“We must identify the close contacts who will be quarantined in our quarantine centres. That is the action plan and we hope by doing this, as what we have done in other areas, we can prevent the disease from spreading.

“We have certainly seen success from phases one, two and three of the MCO with the activities that we are doing, which include active case detection. We have managed to identify the close contacts and manage the locality from the widespread transmission,” he added.

Source: https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2020/05/591435/migrant-workers-unsanitary-living-conditions-contribute-covid-19-spike

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