PETALING JAYA: Student volunteers who were involved in the handling of students from China in wake of the Covid-19 (novel coronavirus) outbreak, did so on their own free will, says Universiti Malaya.
"The university has taken the decision to run the centralised surveillance procedure and they (the volunteers) had offered themselves to help out.
"The volunteers were then given tasks such as assisting in registration matters and handing over of keys to students who were at observation area. However the volunteers at the same time, were proactive and had helped in giving ideas on how to improve the process.
"They had then executed their ideas voluntarily," said the university in a statement on Sunday (Feb 16).
It also claimed that staff were at hand to take over duties in shifts, to give the students time between lectures, and as a risk prevention method.
"It is stressed that they had at no time, had been instructed to conduct any health examinations," it added.
The university also clarified that all who were on duty, including the volunteers, were briefed on the virus, and that their work areas were clean.
Previously, student volunteers at the university claimed that they were to handle the “isolation” of students returning from China for the new semester.
UM Tun Ahmad Zaidi Residential College Caretaker Action Committee chairman Muhammad Aiman Mohd Firhad said the 14 student volunteers at the college had only volunteered to handle the registration of these “mobility students” in the college.
However, in a Facebook post on Saturday (Feb 15), he said that volunteers were performing jobs outside the initial job scope.
These include creating a numbering system for the health screening process, managing the students in the health screening room, distributing food and creating a pass to monitor their movements.
Meanwhile, in a press conference in Putrajaya on Sunday, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said UM must be responsible and provide protection to volunteers or staff members when carrying out the tasks.
"This is what the Prime Minister has reminded us - that we must take care of our staff members as best as we can," she said.
On whether the government will ask an for explanation from UM, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, who was present at the press conference, said that the ministry would follow up on the matter.
He said the issue would also come under the Education Ministry's jurisdiction, too.
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