Covid-19: Sarawak needs to test illegal foreign workers, says PSB Pujut chief

Bruce Chai

MIRI: PSB Pujut branch has called upon the state government and health authorities to adopt a policy to identify the actual number of foreign workers and map an effective strategy to get them tested for Covid-19 to stop the next wave of infections.

Its chairman Bruce Chai said illegal foreign workers, who were mostly in plantation and rural areas, were not tested and Sarawak has to take this seriously as there is no actual data on how many of them are there.

The second and third wave of Covid-19 infections in Sarawak will be imminent if these foreigners come out of plantations, factories or place of employment to go to towns after the Conditional Movement Control Order ( CMCO) is lifted, he said.

The CMCO, since May 4, has been extended until 9 June 2020. It was preceded by the Movement Control Order since March 18, which suspended almost all sectors of the economy.

Chai said both legal and illegal foreign workers were mostly from the healthier and younger generation, who could likely be asymptomatic or has little symptoms if infected.

“They could spread the virus unconsciously to their foreign workers community and if West Malaysia is any indication, Sarawak may proportionally be in a similar position,” he said.

As illegal workers tend to shy away from being tested or seek treatment at clinics if they were unwell, Chai said the lack of information on them was a big worry.

Chai said it was therefore vital that even before June 9, the state health department must to act and have the political will to go into estates or offer illegal foreign workers immunity so that they can come out and a pool sample or statistics of what the actual would be available.

“Numbers tell a story- last week we had single digit (confirmed Covid-19 cases) and even zero cases but, lo and behold, we suddenly have 187 cases once foreign workers were tested,” he said, referring to national figures released by Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

Noor Hisham had said on Tuesday out of the 187 cases, 10 cases were imported and the local transmissions involved mostly those in the immigration detention centres. A total of 7,604 Covid-19 cases have been reported in Malaysia as of Tuesday.

Sarawak cumulatively has 552 Covid cases and 17 deaths as of today. No new cases were reported today.

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