Early screening helped uncover new Covid-19 cluster at construction site, says senior minister

A foreign construction worker is screened for Covid-19 in Pudu, May 15, 2020. — Picture by Choo Choy May
A foreign construction worker is screened for Covid-19 in Pudu, May 15, 2020. — Picture by Choo Choy May

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PUTRAJAYA, May 26 — Early screening conducted by employers helped public health authorities discover the latest Covid-19 cluster at a construction site, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said today.

The construction company held screenings as per the standard operating procedures enforced as the government gradually began reopening the economy, the senior minister said, as he praised the firm involved.

“CIDB informed us about the Covid-19 outbreak at a construction site in Kuala Lumpur,” he said during the National Security Council’s daily press briefing on the epidemic, referring to the Construction Industry Development Board.

“The cluster was uncovered because the developer had adhered to the standard operating procedure (SOP) that requires employers to screen all workers before they are allowed to operate (again).”

The construction site is the latest cluster of Covid-19 cases now surging among migrant workers and so-called undocumented foreigners crammed into immigration detention depots, which has pushed the number of daily cases up again to 172 as of yesterday.

At the construction site, 44 positive cases were detected there alone, Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said yesterday, as he warned that the number of new cases is expected to rise in the next few days.

This makes the total of three Covid-19 clusters at construction sites in Malaysia.

Ismail Sabri said the authorities have ordered the building site of the latest cluster to be closed and workers at the dormitories to be evacuated.

The government has inspected over 5,300 construction sites nationwide. More than 700 were found to have complied with the SOP set by the Health Ministry, while 289 developers had not.

Developers who failed to observe the SOP have been reprimanded and given a stern warning, while seven have been ordered to shut down, the senior minister revealed.

“This shows just how strict CIDB and the Works Ministry are in ensuring the safety of workers at these sites,” Ismail Sabri said.

Over 4,000 construction sites have yet to resume work despite the ease in restrictions.

Employers have screened 27,383 construction workers to date.

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