More than 50,000 foreign workers in Penang to be screened for Covid-19

Foreign workers wait to be screened for Covid-19 at Padang Polo, George Town May 14, 2020. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Foreign workers wait to be screened for Covid-19 at Padang Polo, George Town May 14, 2020. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

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GEORGE TOWN, May 14 — Penang has a total 51,208 foreign workers in factories and on construction sites who will need to undergo Covid-19 screening, said state exco Jagdeep Singh Deo.

The state local government, housing and town and country planning committee chairman said it is compulsory for all foreign workers to undergo screening before going back to work, as per the standard operating procedures (SOPs) by the federal government under the conditional movement control order (CMCO).

“In Penang, there are 109 construction sites on the island and 127 on the mainland with a total 14,436 construction site foreign workers,” he said in a press conference after checking on a temporary Covid-19 screening test site for construction workers at Padang Polo.

He said there are a total 36,772 foreign factory workers in the state with 11,772 on the island.

As a measure to assist construction companies to have their foreign workers screened, the Penang state government, Penang Island City Council (MBPP), Real Estate and Housing Developers Association (Rehda) Penang branch and Penang Masterbuilders Association, together with BP Laboratory, are conducting tests on foreign workers at a makeshift tent at Padang Polo. 

Jagdeep said this is to assist all contractors and developers to have their foreign workers screened in one location. 

“This is a service to the developers and contractors so those who require assistance to get their foreign workers screened, they can contact MBPP or the Masterbuilders secretariat,” he said.

MBPP Mayor Datuk Yew Tung Seang said the makeshift screening site was mooted after holding several meetings with various industries.

“Out of the 109 construction projects on the island, about 10 per cent are MBPP projects so we will first test the 270 foreign workers involved in MBPP projects,” he said.

The screening tests are carried out by personnel from BP Laboratory and employers will need to foot the costs of the screening. 

Yew said the screening site will be open for a month so construction project employers can register their foreign workers for screening there with either MBPP or the Masterbuilders secretariat. 

Jagdeep reminded employers to have contract tracing of their foreign workers even after they are screened with negative results. 

“We still need to be careful to make sure they know where the workers have been and their movements from their quarters to the worksite,” he said. 

He said employers can also have their foreign workers screened at any other Health Ministry approved laboratories or hospitals.

“This screening site is a pilot project to assist the construction industry,” he said.

He reminded the food and beverage industry to also conduct screening tests for their foreign workers before reopening for dine-in service tomorrow. 

“These SOPs applies to all foreign workers no matter what industry they are in,” he said.

Northeast district police chief Assistant Commissioner Soffian Santong, who was also present, said the police will give the various industries and factories time to have their foreign workers screened.

“We are now mostly checking on factories to make sure they adhere to the SOPs with the one-metre apart social distancing rules first, we will only check on the screening tests of foreign workers later as we know they need time to have their workers screened,” he said.


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