Palm oil industry initiates voluntary lockdown among employees

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): Plantation industry players have stepped up measures to help curb the spread of COVID-19 by requiring employees who may have been exposed to the contagion prior to the enforcement of the Movement Control Order (MCO) to self-quarantine.

"We term this initiative as a ‘voluntary lockdown’ and the purpose is to starve the virus of plantation victims,” said relevant organisations representing more than 80% of the Malaysian palm oil industry, in a joint statement today.

The organisations include the Malaysian Palm Oil Association, Malaysian Estate Owners Association, East Malaysia Planters Association and Sarawak Oil Palm Planters Association.

They were responding to reports of COVID-19 infections in one estate in Sabah, which was linked to an individual who had attended an event in the peninsula early March.

According to them, following the announcement of the MCO on March 18, they collectively agreed to, and instructed their members to adhere to stringent safety and security standard in all estates, mills and refinery operations, over and above those announced by the Health Ministry and the Malaysian Palm Oil Board.

To this end, they said stringent and comprehensive standard operating procedures have been implemented in all operations and reinforced.

"We are informed that contact tracing and monitoring of the situation in this (affected) estate is being managed effectively.

"The nature of estate, mill and refinery operations enables the enforcement of strict social distancing guidelines,” they said.

The Malaysian palm oil industry employs more than 750,000 people, not including about a million smallholders.

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