Oil palm plantation workers need to be screened for Covid-19, urges Sadia


KUCHING, Apr 21: Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA) today urges the Ministry of Health Malaysia and the Sarawak government to make it compulsory for all workers of oil palm plantations throughout the state to undergo Covid-19 screening tests.

Its secretary-general Nicholas Mujah expressed concern that some of the plantation workers might be silent carriers of the virus and that their health status could only be determined after the health screening procedure is done.

According to Mujah, the association has been receiving information about the existence of many foreign workers working in plantations throughout the state without a work permit.

“If this is true then not only is the government losing revenue from levy payment but at the same time exposing its citizen to unnecessary health issues due to no health clearance of the illegal workers,” said Mujah in a press statement today.

Regarding the news report that the state government in an effort to tackle the pandemic has formed a team headed by the state’s former health director Dr. Jamilah Hashim to identify all 2,484 contacts of positive cases in Kuching for the necessary Covid-19 screening, Mujah said the association was fully supportive of the initiative as it was a move in the right direction.

However, he cautioned that urgent screening of foreign workers including those in the oil palm plantations was equally necessary.

“With the harsh and unforgiving living conditions and working environment in the plantations, one carrier is enough to trigger the bombshell.”

He believed that if drastic measures of screening oil palm plantations were not taken, the locals living within the vicinity of the plantations and the country’s effort to fight the pandemic may also be affected.

“The innocent locals in the surrounding vicinity shall not be spared and the tireless efforts of the whole country in trying to stop the pandemic early can be badly affected,” said Mujah.—DayakDaily