Swab tests for foreign workers to start in KL, Selangor

PUTRAJAYA: The compulsory swab test for foreign workers will start with those employed in the construction sector in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor in a bid to prevent new clusters from emerging among them, says Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

The Social Security Organisation (Socso) will bear the cost for Covid-19 screening for foreign workers who contribute to the organisation.

“About 60% of foreigners who are employed here contribute to Socso,” he said in response to employers’ complaints of having to bear high costs for the test.

“We are doing this because we are looking after the interests of all Malaysians.

“We need to make sure foreign workers are tested so that there will be no spike in cases,” he said in his daily briefing yesterday.

Ismail Sabri said the government issued this latest directive following concerns that a new cluster had emerged among foreign workers, referring to the 27 new Covid-19 positive cases that were detected at a construction site in Jalan Ampang.

The government on Monday announced that foreign workers

in all economic sectors, including those working in shops, restaurants, factories and construction sites, are to be tested, with the employers bearing the cost.

Premises with positive cases will be sealed off immediately.

According to the Health Ministry, as of April 30, a total of 21,271 non-citizens had been screened for Covid-19 with 811 testing positive.

Ismail Sabri explained that it was important to conduct swab tests among foreign workers.

He cited Singapore as an example where the number of positive cases spiked due to new clusters among foreign workers.

On views by the Malaysian Employers Federation that the ruling would burden employers, Ismail Sabri said it was better to have their foreign workers tested so that those who were sick could be isolated and given treatment.

“If there is a case, premises will be shut. You cannot operate. If we identify those who are positive and we isolate them early, those who are healthy can continue to work and your business can continue to operate.

“I believe this is better than companies having to stop operations because there is a Covid-19 positive case on their premises,” he said.

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