As Singapore begins its “circuit breaker” measures against further local transmission of COVID-19 on Tue (7 Apr), many Malaysian workers in Singapore have sought to return to their hometown after having to stay in Singapore since the beginning of the Movement Control Order on 18 Mar.
Malaysia’s Director-General for Health, Noor Hisham Abdullah, announced yesterday that the government of both countries are still discussing the matter.
Whether or not Malaysians will be able to head home during the circuit-breaking measures in Singapore will depend on both governments’ agreement.
Dr Noor Hisham suggested that the Malaysian workers stay in Singapore for another two weeks if it is possible for them.
“Malaysians currently living and working in Singapore, if possible, stay there for another two weeks. If they return to Malaysia, they will need to be screened for further action,” he said.
Malaysia’s Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob told a press conference on Mon (6 Apr) that Malaysian workers who wish to return home must first be tested for COVID-19 in Singapore, based on an existing agreement between both countries.
Previously, it was reported that Malaysians were allowed to go home as long as they went for a COVID-19 swab test and provided a letter from the Singapore authorities certifying that they were tested COVID-19 negative.
However, Singapore’s Ministry of Health clarified that COVID-19 testing is performed when clinically indicated for patients and their close contacts.
Malaysian workers who are not eligible for the tests will not be able to return to their country.
“There is currently no requirement by the Government of Singapore for foreigners exiting Singapore to be swabbed for non-clinical grounds,” stated Singapore’s Ministry of Health.
There are at least 45,500 Malaysians working in Singapore currently, with many of them work under non-essential businesses.
Therefore, as the circuit-breaking measures implemented, companies and firms they are employed by were forced to closed, leaving them with no choice but to return to their home country.
Among these 45,000 workers, 1,170 of them had returned to Malaysia between 1 to 6 Apr, New Straits Times reported.
Ismail Sabri said that Malaysian citizens would not be allowed to return for the moment until the terms were finalised.
He had also explained that the new terms were being discussed by a joint working group comprising officials from the foreign and human resources ministries of the two countries.