No plan for more private labs to test workers, says Sarawak minister

Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister James Masing says there have been previous incidences where some in the private sector had paid some unscrupulous medical practitioners to issue fake health certificates for foreign workers.

KUCHING: The  Sarawak state government does not intend to get more private test laboratories to do Covid-19 screening of foreign workers, said Deputy Chief Minister James Masing.

“The standard operating procedures (SOPs) for testing foreign workers in the state for Covid-19, before they start working, must not be compromised,” he said, adding that the virus testing protocol was under the health ministry.

He was responding to the call by the Sarawak Housing and Real Estate Developers’ Association (Sheda) yesterday for the state government to appoint more Covid-19 test labs to screen foreign workers in the state.

According to Sheda, there are thousands of foreign workers in Sarawak who would be returning to work and they would be rushing to get themselves screened at the single private Covid-19 test laboratory in Kuching, appointed by the Social Security Organisation.

In Kuching alone, it said, there were about 12,000 workers who had been registered to be screened for the virus.

Masing said although the process to test these foreign workers would take some time it was better for the state government to be “strict and safe”.

James Masing.

He said there had been previous incidences where some in the private sector had paid some unscrupulous medical practitioners to issue fake health certificates for foreign workers.

He also said if employers or contractors were confident enough to commence work, they must also be ready to take into account the risk that their workers might be infected with Covid-19.

“The SOPs require contractors to be liable for all medical costs and sanitisation costs in the event any of their site workers are infected with the virus.

“It is only fair that contractors are accountable for the sites they manage and are responsible for,” he said.

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