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Ministry encourages companies to test staff for Covid-19 before returning to work

The Health Ministry urged companies to screen their workforce for Covid-19 before returning to work.

This comes after the detection of a positive case involving an asymptomatic woman from Perak, who was diagnosed with a weak positive infection during a screening activity as part of a requirement by her employer in Johor.

Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the case was discovered due to the company's good practice, which had allowed the health authority to isolate the patient and treat her.

"Maybe it was a sporadic case which managed to be detected because a test was conducted before the patient returned to work. This was due to the company and the individual's good level of compliance (to MOH guidelines)," he told a press conference in Putrajaya today.

"The policy of the government today is that if a company wants to do tests on their employees, we welcome them to do so on their own initiative. So we can isolate and treat (those who are found with the virus)," Noor Hisham added.

For the record, the current policy employed by the government only requires foreign workers to be tested for Covid-19 before they are allowed to resume work with their companies.

In the Perak woman's case, she had returned to her hometown in Manjung just before the government enforced the movement control order (MCO) on March 18 and had since been there with her family.

However, throughout her stay there, the woman and another sister, who later tested positive as well, had never shown any Covid-19 symptoms.

She was only found with the virus when tested at a private hospital in Johor on May 5 as a company condition for her to return to work.

The result came back with a "weak positive". A "weak positive" result is normally found in Covid-19 patients who are near full recovery.

Following this, MOH had also isolated and tested the rest of her family members in Perak, during which the other sister tested positive.

According to Noor Hisham, the number of sporadic cases in the country had also shown a major decline recently, alongside the drop in the number of new positive cases.

As of 12 noon today, MOH recorded 16 new cases in the past 24 hours, of which only four were local transmissions among Malaysians, while nine cases involved foreign workers.

Three others were imported cases, detected among Malaysians who returned from overseas.

Noor Hisham said the ministry also aims at increasing its capability of detecting sporadic cases through MOH sentinel clinics nationwide.

The health authority had also started testing all patients for Covid-19 before they undergo emergency or semi-emergency surgeries.