Malaysian authorities looking for 400 residents who ran away before strict Covid-19 lockdown

Employers have bussed out hundreds of their workers who live in Medan 88. PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian authorities are looking for 400 residents who fled a district near the Kuala Lumpur International Airport ahead of a strict lockdown of the area to curb the spread of the coronavirus, local media reported on Thursday (Nov 12).

The authorities had several days ago announced that the Medan 88 area in Salak Tinggi, in Selangor's Sepang district would be placed under a stricter version of the movement control order (MCO).

Under the enhanced MCO, barbed wires are placed around a targeted area to prevent people from entering or leaving for 14 days. The health authorities will then conduct health checks on every resident, and packets of food and other essentials are sent to them as no one is allowed to leave.

But employers have bussed out hundreds of their workers who live in Medan 88, Malaysiakini news site quoted Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob as saying.

They will be tracked down by the police and arrested, he told reporters at his regular Covid-19 briefing.

"I was informed that some employers colluded with their workers, gave them buses and the like to take them out of the area.

"This will make it easier for the police because they can now track the workers through their employers," he said, as quoted by Malaysiakini.

"We (the National Security Council) have decided that action can be taken not just on the workers who ran away but also on employers who colluded with them. This is because they have troubled the authorities and placed the lives of others at risk," Datuk Seri Ismail said.

As of Tuesday, 40 positive Covid-19 cases were reported in the area in the last 14 days, Bernama news agency reported. This was just one case short of Medan 88 being declared a "red zone", the highest alert for the fast spread of Covid-19.

The rest of Selangor are still under conditional MCO, with movements to other states restricted, police mounting roadblocks along major roads and mass gatherings banned.

The authorities have said that previous areas placed under the Enhanced MCO have complained about worries of job and income losses, as everyone were forced to stay indoors during the 14-day quarantine period.

Malaysia on Thursday recorded 919 new Covid-19 cases, bringing total infections to 43,791, said the Health Ministry.

There was one new Covid-19 fatality to raise the death toll to 303.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.