State govt monitoring foreign workers to prevent Covid-19 cluster forming

Uggah giving updates on the Covid-19 situation in Sarawak during a press briefing on April 21, 2020.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, April 21: The Labour Department and Occupational Safety and Health Department are monitoring the welfare and health of 138,183 foreign workers in Sarawak to ensure no Covid-19 infection cluster emerges from this group.

State Disaster Management Committee chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas pointed out that the concern over foreign workers arose as cases among migrant workers in Singapore have surged.

“The two departments are assisting the state government to ensure that the foreign workers, whether working in plantations or industries, are being observed and protected under the measures undertaken by the government.

“So far only five foreigners have tested positive for Covid-19 in Sarawak,” he told a daily Covid-19 press briefing today.

Singapore has confirmed 1,111 new Covid-19 cases as of noon today (April 21), bringing the country’s tally past the 9,000 mark, with the tiny city-state now bearing the highest number of cases in Southeast Asia.

Most of the Covid-19 cases recorded in the island comprised foreign workers living in mass dormitories.

Furthermore, continued emergence of clusters linked to dormitories, together with the authorities’ aggressive testing of workers, have sent the total number of cases in Singapore surging since measures were introduced to contain the spread of the illness under the Circuit Breaker initiative.

Meanwhile, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his fourth address on the Covid-19 situation today (April 21), announced that the Circuit Breaker will be extended by another month to June 1.

Meanwhile, responding to a question, Uggah gave assurance that active discussions were carried out daily in preparing Sarawak in case the Covid-19 situation worsened with plans underway to ensure sufficient hospital beds in Kuching.

“We are not praying for the worse, we are praying for the best. But as I have mentioned yesterday (April 20), this is the road none of us have walked through.

“As such, we have to look at the experience and measures implemented by countries which have succeeded and failed so we follow in the preparations that are needed,” he said.

One of the preparations, he added, included ensuring sufficient hospital beds such as had been done in Kuala Lumpur.

“We are planning to have one (facility) in Kuching. As for the place (site) and number of beds, we will inform later,” he disclosed. — DayakDaily