A total of 147 people have run away from Covid-19 quarantine centres in Malaysia, the country's health director-general, Noor Hisham Abdullah said on May 6, according to The Star.
Claims of weaknesses in the Ministry's SOP dismissed
He added that most of the escapees were from the construction sector, and that the health ministry had since lodged a report with the police, who were taking action against the escapees.
However, none of the individuals have tested positive, although they were supposed to stay at the quarantine centre for 14 days before being tested again, according to a quote from Noor Hisham in Malaysian media The Edge Markets.
He also dismissed claims of weaknesses in the Ministry's Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) as the reason for their escape.
As per Noor Hisham, according to The Star:
"This is not a problem with SOP. If we look at the first wave, we had Chinese nationals who also ran away from a quarantine centre."
Escaped individuals were close contact of a cluster
Noor Hisham explained that the escapees were quarantined as they were close contacts of a cluster that emerged among construction workers in the town of Ampang.
The cluster was announced by Malaysia's Health Ministry on May 3, with 28 confirmed infections, The Edge Markets further reported.
One instance of escape involved foreigners
Malaysian media also reported an incident where a group of foreign nationals escaped from quarantine on May 4.
According to Malaysiakini, six men who escaped from a quarantine centre in Kuala Lumpur at that time were Bangladeshis and Indonesians.
They had been quarantined on the grounds of living with suspected Covid-19 cases at their places of accommodation in Selangor Mansion, Menara City One and Kampung Baru.
It is unclear if they have been counted among the 147 people who have escaped from quarantine so far.
In response to this particular incident, Malaysia's Defence Minister, Ismail Sabri Yaakob, stated that the country's National Security Council (NSC) will review its SOP on how quarantine centres are managed, Malaysiakini further reported.
He stated, "We will look at the SOP and see how they could have escaped from the area. If the SOP is not tight enough, we will tighten it."
Top photo by Mohd Daud/NurPhoto via Getty Images