GEORGE TOWN, Jan 6 — With the pandemic showing no signs of abating, the Penang government is hoping factories in the state will allow the authorities to use their compounds to set up quarantine centres for low-risk Covid-19 patients.
Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said factories that have larger grounds and suitable facilities could set up the quarantine areas to house their workers diagnosed as Covid positive but did not have severe symptoms of the virus to reduce the burden on the existing centres for low-risk patients.
“We are facing challenges in preparing low-risk Covid-19 centres to accommodate the sharp increase in cases so we are proposing that factories set up these centres in their grounds,” he said in a press conference here today.
He said the idea was not new, pointing out that prisons have done so previously.
“The factories can prepare facilities and quarters for their workers on their sites, but only if the factories have a large space to do so,” Chow said.
The state government is also proposing for two to three more new sites to be turned into low-risk Covid-19 centres.
Chow said the state had submitted the proposal to the state security council to be submitted to the National Security Council (NSC) for approval and funding from the federal government.
“We are preparing to face an increase in cases as testing is being conducted more actively now,” he said.
He said as more workers are being swabbed, there is a possibility of more positive cases being detected.
Among the sites the state proposed is the Spice Arena in Relau.
“Spice Arena can accommodate more than 1,000 beds,” he said.
As for the Pesta site that was earlier proposed, he said the site was inappropriate as it lacked the facilities needed for a low-risk Covid-19 centre.
Chow said there is a possibility that an upcoming NSC special meeting will discuss quarantining Covid-19 patients at their respective homes.
As for recent complaints that Malaysians were being placed with foreign workers at the low-risk Covid-19 centre in the Balik Pulau Sports Complex, Chow said the Malaysians will be immediately shifted to the Pusat Latihan Zakat in Balik Pulau.
“The Pusat Latihan Zakat was used as a quarantine centre for Malaysians who came back from overseas before they were quarantined in hotels so now this can be used as a low-risk Covid-19 centre,” he said.
As for the progress of swab tests for foreign workers in the state, state Exco Jagdeep Singh Deo said there are a total 140,450 registered foreign workers in the state.
“So far, about 15,000 have been tested and testing will continue daily,” he said.
Penang had 60 new cases yesterday and as at January 3, it has a total 935 active cases.