Health Ministry to investigate source of Covid-19 outbreak at detention centres


  • Nation
  • Saturday, 23 May 2020

PUTRAJAYA: The Ministry of Health will investigate the source of the Covid-19 outbreak at both the Bukit Jalil and Semenyih Immigration detention centres, after clusters of cases were detected in these areas in the past few days.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said they would look into the possibility that the staff at the detention centres were the source of the disease.

‘The detainees are not going anywhere, but the staff are going in and out, ” he said during the ministry's daily press briefing on the Covid-19 situation on Saturday (May 23).

He said that at this point, 114 staff from the Bukit Jalil centre and 121 from Semenyih have tested negative for Covid-19.

Dr Noor Hisham had earlier said that 21 cases were detected in the Semenyih centre, while on Friday, he had said that a total of 35 cases were detected at the Bukit Jalil centre.

Detainees who have tested positive have been moved out, while their close contacts have been isolated from the rest.

He said that only those who were negative after undergoing screening would be placed in the centres.

Dr Noor Hisham said there was a possibility that one or two of the detainees were not screened, or the virus was not detected during the incubation period.

The detainees - all from the enhanced movement control order (MCO) areas - were screened on Day 1 and Day 13 of their quarantine, before being detained by immigration.

“We are taking precautionary measures for all detention centres. Not only detention centres, we also take precaution in prison as well. The prison authorities have to make sure we comply to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) that we have, ” said Dr Noor Hisham.

Dr Noor Hisham said they had taken 1752 samples from Semenyih, with 1631 of these samples taken from the detainees.

While 21 people had tested positive, Dr Noor Hisham said they were still waiting for more results.

The government had detained thousands of undocumented immigrants from the Jalan Masjid India area, the Kuala Lumpur Wholesale Market area and the Petaling Jaya Old Town area.

This was criticised by civil society organisations who had warned that detention centres were confined quarters that created a perfect hotbed for spreading the virus to and from communities.

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