MOH: Malaysia learning from Singapore to handle Covid-19 among foreign workers

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah speaks during a press conference on Covid-19 in Putrajaya April 20, 2020. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah speaks during a press conference on Covid-19 in Putrajaya April 20, 2020. — Picture by Choo Choy May

PUTRAJAYA, April 20 — Malaysia is learning from its neighbour Singapore’s recent lessons in handling the foreign worker cluster, Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said today.

He said Malaysia is now doing a targeted approach at the areas surrounding the Kuala Lumpur Wholesale Market, which has been declared a new enhanced movement control order (EMCO) zone today, and will try to get high-risk foreign workers there tested.

“We learnt from our neighbour country to accelerate the action so that we can control the virality of positive cases and in dealing with the Covid-19 infection from the non-citizen group,” he said in his daily briefing.

Dr Noor Hisham also called for other high-risk foreign workers to come out to the public health clinics to undergo screening tests for Covid-19 as well.

This comes as Singapore reported a record daily jump of 1,426 new Covid-19 cases today, with the “vast majority” of the new cases work permit holders living in foreign worker dormitories.

Dr Noor Hisham said Malaysia might start to do mass testing to the population at the so-called “red zones”.

However, the testing is not the same as in Covid-19 screening at the hospital and will be using test kits that tested the level of IgM and IgM antibody to detect the virus among the population.

“We are waiting for the right time to do the test. We will do the antibody test, testing the IgM and IgG level. What we need is just a drop of blood. It is not a diagnosis, but to detect how many were unknowingly infected in that area.

“We may need cooperation from the private clinics in order to get the most updated data for us to take the next action,” he said.

Immunoglobulin detection tests are based on the qualitative detection of IgM and IgG that are specifically generated by the body in response to SARS-CoV-2 infection.

IgM is usually the first, specific antibody type generated by the body in response to infection. Then, the IgG antibody type is generated and replaces IgM as the predominant antibody in the response to infection.

IgM and IgG fight infections by targeting specific antigens on the surface of the SARS-nCoV-2 virus.

Last Thursday, Dr Noor Hisham said they are in the midst of procuring antigen test kits from South Korea, which is proven to provide more accurate results, and planned to use the kits for mass screening for targeted groups.

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