UM says student isolation followed health ministry guidelines

UM’s 10th residential college is being used as an isolation centre to house students from China. (Facebook pic)

PETALING JAYA: Universiti Malaya has rebuffed criticisms by student groups over its isolation procedures for students from China over the Covid-19 outbreak and said its actions were in line with health ministry guidelines.

In a statement, UM said among the safety measures taken include placing students from China at a centralised surveillance centre for 14 days.

Necessary steps, it said, would be taken if they displayed any symptoms of infection by the Covid-19 virus which has caused the deaths of more than 1,500 people in China.

The university said health screenings were carried out by a medical team, including paramedics from UM, with the assistance of other departments.

“Since the Covid-19 outbreak, the university has been monitoring the situation and has been in close contact with the health ministry and the education ministry to seek their advice in managing the situation,” it said.

Earlier today a coalition of student associations took the university’s management to task over its isolation procedures, calling it an “absolute blunder”.

Suara Siswa UM spokesman Yap Wen Ching alleged that occasionally these students from China, who were supposed to be in isolation, were allowed to roam around the university campus.

UM and other universities have made it mandatory for students from China to be isolated for 14 days to ensure they are free of the virus. For UM, these students have been placed at the 10th residential college.

The university said those who did not display any symptoms were allowed to take part in any group activity.

It said 14 student volunteers posted at 10th College had gone to the centralised surveillance centre on their own accord.

It said the volunteers were initially assigned to help with registration and entrance inspections, which included the handing over of room keys to students who have gone through the centralised surveillance procedure.

“But these volunteers were proactive and gave ideas on how to improve the process. “It must be noted that none of them were ordered to carry out health checks,” it said. UM personnel had gradually taken over the duties to minimise risks.