No compromise on Covid-19 testing for foreign workers: Masing

Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing

By Peter Sibon

KUCHING, May 13: It is mandatory that all foreign workers must undergo Covid-19 testing before they should be allowed to work, said Deputy Chief Minister and Minister of Infrastructure and Port Development Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing.

Additionally, he insisted that their employers follow the mandatory standard operating procedures (SOP) as prescribed by the Ministry of Health.

“The prescribed SOP that testing of foreign workers must be carried out before they are allowed to start work must not be compromised. Although it will take some time for all workers to be tested, it is better to be strict and safe rather than to rush and risk,” Masing said in a statement issued here today.

Masing, who is the minister-in-charge of construction, was responding to Sarawak Housing and Real Estate Developers’ Association (Sheda)’s statement which appeared in local dailies today expressing concern over the mandatory requirements for all foreign site workers to undergo Covid-19 screening and to be certified free of the virus before being allowed to start working.

Sheda said there were thousands of foreign construction workers and probably tens of thousands if the number included foreign factory workers returning to work.

Sheda was also concerned that these workers will be rushing to the one-and-only private Covid-19 test laboratory in Kuching appointed by Socso (Social Security Organisation).

According to Sheda, one of its associate had called up the test laboratory and was informed that there were already 12,000 workers in Kuching alone registered in the queue.

Elaborating further, Masing said, that the protocol of testing for Covid-19 falls under the ambit of Ministry of Health.

“However, based on existence of previous incidences where private sectors paid unscrupulous medical practitioners to issue fake health certificates for foreign workers, the use of private clinics must not be open for all and appointment of clinics must be done in a strict manner and by merits.

“The SOP requires contractor to be liable for all medical costs, sanitisation costs and etc in the event any of their site workers are infected with Covid-19,” he said.

Thus, he said it was only fair that contractors were accountable for the sites they manage and are responsible for.

“If contractors are confident enough to commence work, they should also be ready to take into account the risk that their workers might be infected with Covid-19. If the contractors are not confident or ready to be liable, then please do not resume operation. With the presence of Covid-19, contractors should learn to adjust to the new norms,” added Masing. —DayakDaily