Nearly 3,000 immigration detainees in Malaysia to be tested for COVID-19 after dozens of positive cases

Nearly 3,000 immigration detainees in Malaysia to be tested for COVID-19 after dozens of positive cases

Health workers perform testing at coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing center at KPJ Damansar
Health workers perform a COVID-19 test in Malaysia. (File photo: Reuters/Lim Huey Teng)

PUTRAJAYA: All immigration detainees in two detention centres in Malaysia will be tested for COVID-19, following dozens of positive cases in both facilities.

The two detention centres, which are in Bukit Jalil in Kuala Lumpur and Semenyih in Selangor, house about 3,000 detainees.

“In Semenyih, two of the detainees have tested positive. Sixty have tested positive in Bukit Jalil," said Malaysia's health director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah on Friday (May 22).

“So now we will screen and test all of the detainees in both detention centres. All of them will be tested before we send them back to their respective countries."

Those who test positive for the virus will have to be quarantined and treated in Malaysia first, added Dr Noor Hisham.

He also said that 114 staff members in the Bukit Jalil detention centre were screened and all of them tested negative for the virus. 

READ: COVID-19: All arrivals in Malaysia must pay for mandatory hotel quarantine

“Now at the detention centres it’s like during the enhanced movement control order (EMCO). They are all in a contained area which is the detention centre and we will screen all of them and isolate those who test positive and screen their close contacts as well,” he told reporters at a press conference.

According to Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, there are 1,200 detainees in Bukit Jalil centre and 1,600 detainees in the Semenyih facility.

“The (COVID-19) cases involve undocumented migrants who were detained before the MCO and later those detained from the EMCO area of Masjid India were brought in,” he said, noting that the detainees live in dormitories where many people shared a space.

"They stay in a dorm, not one person one room, that is how the infection might have spread."

All staff members will have to use full personal protective equipment to prevent the risk of infection.

The minister added that Malaysians need not worry about the spread of the virus from the detention centres.

“Don’t worry because the detention centres are like quarantine centres and they are all isolated from the public,” he said. 

READ: COVID-19 - Malaysians reminded to not provide false contact tracing information


Malaysia announced 78 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, bringing the total tally to 7,137.

Twenty-five of the new cases are Malaysians returning from overseas.

Of the 53 local infections, 40 involve non-Malaysians with 25 of them from the Bukit Jalil detention centre. 

One more person has died from the disease - a 65-year-old Malaysian man with diabetes, hypertension and kidney problems. This brings the total fatalities to 115.

“Additionally, 63 new recoveries were recorded today, bringing the total number of recoveries to 5,859. That makes the total number of active cases 1,163,” said the health director-general.

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Source: CNA/zl(gs)