Malaysia to expand mandatory Covid-19 screening for foreign workers

The programme focused on four "high-risk" states and two federal territories. PHOTO: REUTERS

IPOH (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia is expanding its Covid-19 screening programme for foreign workers nationwide from Tuesday (Feb 2), Human Resources Minister M. Saravanan said on Saturday (Jan 30).

The programme will involve 800,000 foreign nationals working in Malaysia and is focused on four "high-risk" states and two federal territories, he said.

He said these states are Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Penang, Sabah and the federal territories of Kuala Lumpur and Labuan.

Malaysia has some two million migrants who work in the country legally, mostly in factories, plantations and at construction sites, as security guards and as office cleaners.

Covid-19 cases surged to a new record-high of 5,745 a day on Friday, while the cumulative total of coronavirus cases is above the 200,000-mark.

There have been several outbreaks of infections among foreign workers in the last few weeks, including those working in a glove factory in Klang, Selangor, security guards in a Johor Baru mall, and in Malaysia's biggest wholesale market in Kuala Lumpur.

The screening programme will be implemented by the government's Social Security Organisation (Socso) with the cooperation of private clinics, Datuk Seri Saravanan said.

He said Socso has added RM54 million to its outlay for expanding the screening programme.

"The screening will utilise the antigen rapid test kits (RTK-Ag), with the cost of the kits borne by Socso," he said.

But employers will be required to pay for any charges imposed by the clinics and they also need to bear the total cost of the screenings for the foreign workers who are not Socso contributors," the minister said in a statement.

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