On 3.5.2020, the Director-General of Health, Datuk Seri Dr Noor Hisham bin Abdullah, disclosed during his daily press conference that a new COVID-19 cluster known as “kluster pembinaan” has been identified. He further stated the following:
- A total of 28 positive cases were detected at a construction site in Kuala Lumpur;
- The said positive cases are all related to foreign nationals;
- This new cluster may be related to other clusters such as the Sri Petaling Mosque Gathering Cluster, Pasar Borong Cluster or Kampung Baru Cluster; and
- The matter is still under investigation and there is no concrete evidence that relates this new cluster with other existing clusters.
On 4.5.2020, the Senior Minister for Security and Minister of Defence of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, announced the following:
- All foreign workers in all industry sectors in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur are now required to undergo the Covid-19 tests; and
- The costs of the COVID-19 tests are to be borne by the employers.
The new directive understandably does not bode well for employers. In an interview with the China Press, the executive director of the Malaysia Employer Federation, Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan, revealed that based on the number of registered foreign workers in Malaysia, the COVID-19 tests will set employers back by RM1.15 billion.1 Datuk Shamsuddin further suggested that the government should bear the cost of the COVID-19 test should the government be minded to make the said test compulsory.
From the information gathered online, we took note of the following facilities provided by the local private hospitals:
- A drive-thru Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Swab Test, which is approved by the Malaysian Ministry of Health, will cost employers approximately RM390 to RM400 (by appointment only); and
- Screening results will generally be available within 24-48 hours.
Although the government has sanctioned the commencement of business operations, many employers will find that the cost of the mandatory COVID-19 tests for all foreign workers to be daunting if not prohibitive. Businesses are already suffering financial distress throughout the restrictions imposed on movement and business operations, and the mandatory COVID-19 testing can be expected to add to the financial burdens to these businesses. Any form of financial assistance, full or in part, for conducting the mandatory COVID-19 tests, will be of great benefit to the employers. Watch this space as we bring you more updates on this.
1 The China Press, “Movement Control Order: If all foreign workers are to be tested, employers to bear the RM11 billion costs”, https://www.chinapress.com.my/20200504/%e2%97%a4%e8%a1%8c%e5%8a%a8%e7%ae%a1%e5%88%b6%e2%97%a2-%e8%8b%a5%e6%89%80%e6%9c%89%e5%a4%96%e5%8a%b3%e9%83%bd%e8%a6%81%e9%aa%8c-%e9%9b%87%e4%b8%bb%e8%a6%81%e6%89%bf%e6%8b%8511%e4%ba%bf%e8%b4%b9/
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