Coronavirus: Malaysians working in Singapore should remain there, says KL health chief

Malaysian health workers entering a lockdown area to screen residents in Kuala Lumpur on April 7, 2020.
Malaysian health workers entering a lockdown area to screen residents in Kuala Lumpur on April 7, 2020.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

PUTRAJAYA - Malaysian workers in Singapore looking to return as Singapore implements "circuit breaker" measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus have been asked to remain in the Republic for another two weeks.

Malaysia's director-general of health Noor Hisham Abdullah said on Tuesday (April 7) that the governments of both countries were currently discussing the matter.

"Malaysians currently living and working in Singapore - if possible, stay there for another two weeks," said Datuk Seri Noor Hisham at a press conference, as quoted by the New Straits Times.

"If they return to Malaysia, they will need to be screened for further action," he said.

In a press conference on Monday, Malaysian Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob had said that under the existing agreement between the two countries, Malaysians who work in Singapore and want to return home must first be tested for Covid-19 - the disease caused by the coronavirus - in the Republic.

There are at least 45,000 Malaysians working in Singapore, many of whom are looking to return as non-essential businesses shut down during Singapore's circuit breaker measures in force from Tuesday to May 4.

Malaysia had earlier said that its citizens would be allowed to return home, subject to a swab test and a letter from the Singapore authorities certifying that they were free of the coronavirus.

However, Singapore's Ministry of Health said that Covid-19 testing is performed when clinically indicated, for patients and their close contacts.

"There is currently no requirement by the Government of Singapore for foreigners exiting Singapore to be swabbed for non-clinical grounds," the ministry said in response to media queries.

Kuala Lumpur does not impose a similar testing requirement on others entering Malaysia, such as via Kuala Lumpur International Airport, nor does it test foreign workers in the country before they return home.

Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri had said that new terms were being discussed by a joint working group comprising officials from the foreign and human resources ministries of the two countries. He said that until the changes were finalised, citizens would not be allowed to return.

"...for now, we won't allow Malaysians in Singapore to return," said Mr Ismail Sabri, adding that there were tens of thousands of Malaysians seeking to make their way back.