PUTRAJAYA: The government treated foreigners fairly when conducting COVID-19 tests under the Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO) and semi-EMCO, said Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

He said there was no discrimination, as locals, and documented and undocumented foreigners would all be tested and subjected to the same treatment in hospitals.

“Can you imagine the outbreak of 277 (cases) in the community rather than detention centre (DTI)? Today in DTI, we already managed to control the spread. But if it’s in community, they would have actually spread to other people.

“So this is the reason why containment is important to test those positive, and we treat them equally in our hospitals, in terms of feeding them, free testing, and for 14 days in MAEPS hospital. The government spent millions of ringgit to build the temporary hospitals to treat the patients,” he told a press conference on COVID-19 here today.

Dr Noor Hisham said for undocumented migrants, those positive were detained at the immigration academy centre in Port Dickson for 14-day isolation before being tested a second time.

“Once positive we have to admit them to hospital and isolate them and treat them there. This is the mitigation that we have in terms of looking into the illegals (foreigners).

“The illegals will be managed by the Immigration Department in DTI, and the most important (thing) is to make sure they are negative and deport them as soon as possible.

“As for the legally documented migrants, when they’re tested negative, we released them just like our locals after EMCO,” he added.

He also said the Health Ministry (MOH) and the Ministry of Human Resource were looking into the welfare and housing of foreign workers as the spike in cases among the migrant community was mostly due to cramped accommodation.

The government was looking at the laws to ensure that employers play their part in looking after the welfare and housing of foreign workers, he said.

Asked on the high number of asymptomatic cases, Dr Noor Hisham said this was because of the targeted approach screening in areas under EMCO and semi-EMCO.

Out of the 8,674 positive cases reported as of yesterday, 6,092 (70.25 per cent) were asymptomatic and 2,282 (29.75 per cent) were symptomatic, he said.

Dr Noor Hisham said everyone placed under the EMCO and semi-EMCO was screened, and therefore more asymptomatic patients were detected.

He said the MOH would continue to enhance its surveillance and testing, for example, severe acute respiratory infections (SARI), influenza-like-illnesses (ILI) and preoperative testing.

Asked whether temperature screening is efficient, Dr Noor Hisham said it would detect positive symptoms, especially those that are asymptomatic.

He said it was unable to differentiate asymptomatic patients without symptoms which have a low risk of infection and those pre-symptomatic.

However, the hospital is able to detect those who are pre-symptomatic and will conduct a reverse two- day contact tracing.

Dr Noor Hisham said the active trace-and-track approach will allow the MOH to look into close contacts and isolate them as soon as possible, thus preventing them from infecting other people.


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