‘MNCs closed for virus screening to avoid bigger damage’

THE temporary closure of certain multinational companies (MNCs) in Bayan Lepas, Penang, in the past two weeks was necessary to contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said if the companies were not closed for screening and sanitisation, it would have led to bigger damage and complete lockdown of the area.

“We would have paid a higher price if the companies with positive Covid-19 cases were allowed to operate without taking the necessary measures to curb the spread of the virus, ” said Chow at a press conference in Komtar on Thursday.

He was responding to The Star report which said that at least five companies were suffering losses due to production downtime and shutdown for screening and sanitisation due to Covid-19.

Chow said if the measures had not been taken, the companies could not have controlled the spread of the virus and would have to face bigger issues.

“Manufacturers and factory owners were aware that they will have to comply with all standard operating procedures (SOPs) in the factories.

“They must ensure that workers are safe at the workplace, during their journey to the workplaces and at the workers’ hostels or dormitories by adhering to all SOPs.

“Of course there would be disruption in manufacturing process during this temporary closure of days or week, but this is something which is unavoidable, ’’ he said.

The report stated that about 5,000 employees are working at the five affected MNCs with one of the Singapore-owned company recording a drop of 40% of its daily production after it was required to do mass screening for all 600 of its workers.

It was estimated that it would take at least a few days for the employees, including some 100 administration staff and 500 production operators, to complete the swab tests carried out by the Health Ministry.

Most of the workers are mainly foreigners staying at the workers’ hostel in Relau, where many positive Covid-19 cases were reported recently, believed to be linked to the Intan cluster.

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