A new cluster of the coronavirus or COVID-19 has broken out at a detention center for the undocumented migrants who are in Malaysia, authorities stated on Saturday. Malaysia has been grappling with the novel virus issue in the last few months.
This month, the country has arrested over 2,000 foreigners this month for not having the permits, which allow them to be inside the nation following raids in areas which are under lockdown. The centers they are detained in are mostly crowded, with dozens of the migrants packed in a single cell.
UN Asked Malaysia to Stop Crackdown
The United Nations and rights groups have called on Malaysia to stop the crackdown and criticized authorities for going after a vulnerable community during the pandemic. The Southeast Asian country has so far reported 7,185 virus infections and 115 deaths. The health ministry said on Saturday that 21 cases were identified at the Semenyih detention center near the capital Kuala Lumpur, which houses around 1,600 detainees.
It is the second detention center at which a cluster of virus infections has broken out. Around 60 cases were reported among the 1,400 detainees at the Bukit Jalil center earlier this week. The ministry's Director-General, Noor Hisham Abdullah, said the source of infections at the centers had not been identified. The migrants were screened before their arrests, but the virus may not have been detected during the incubation period, he said.
Detainees can spend months in the centers before they are deported. In recent weeks, there has been public anger towards refugees and other foreigners, who have been accused of spreading disease, burdening the state and taking jobs as the economy plummets. Rohingya refugees in particular have been targets of harassment and threats.