Sabah keeps palm oil estates open, orders mass Covid -19 testing

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Malaysia’s largest palm oil producing state Sabah will not impose a shutdown on plantations despite a rise in coronavirus infections in the sector, but urged estates to tighten its compliance of Covid-19 prevention measures.  PHOTO: REUTERS 

[KUALA LUMPUR] Malaysia’s largest palm oil producing state Sabah will not impose a shutdown on plantations despite a rise in coronavirus infections in the sector, but urged estates to tighten its compliance of Covid-19 prevention measures.

The state government said on Monday it was concerned over Covid-19 cases at palm oil plantations, after detecting six clusters involving more than 200 positive cases.

Plantations were ordered to conduct widespread testing on all workers within the next 30 days starting Jan 25, and those with positive Covid-19 cases will be closed immediately, it said in a statement on Monday.

The Malaysian Palm Oil Association had earlier proposed plantations voluntarily impose a 30-day restriction in movement, with workers confined within the plantations, to prevent a work stoppage.

Sabah Covid-19 spokesperson Masidi Manjun told Reuters the state was not considering a shutdown order at the moment.

“The state’s recommendation was to encourage plantations to self regulate (their) operation including voluntary temporary operational stoppage to enable the management to take remedial action to fully comply with all standard operating procedure,” Mr Masidi said.

Sabah accounts for nearly 25 per cent of total crude palm oil production in the world’s second largest producer.

Source : The Business Times

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