Malaysia confirmed 35 new coronavirus or COVID-19 cases at an immigration detention center on Thursday as the authorities rounded up migrants without documents in the areas in areas that are under lockdown for the deadly novel virus.
The United Nations has asked Malaysia to put an end to the crackdown, which it mentioned has spread fear among the migrants in the Southeast Asian country that has confirmed 7,059 cases and 114 deaths so far.
UN Asks Malaysia to Stop Crackdown of Migrants
Malaysian authorities have detained more than 1,800 migrants in at least two raids as part of efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus, raising concerns they could instead raise infection risks in overcrowded detention centers. The health ministry said on Thursday it had 35 confirmed cases at the Bukit Jalil immigration detention center, located in the outskirts of the capital Kuala Lumpur, out of 645 people who were being held in one block at the center.
"The source of infection is still under investigation ... we need to investigate in detail before making any comments," the ministry's Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah told a daily news conference broadcast live on national television. Noor Hisham said the 35 positive cases include 17 people from Myanmar, 15 from India, and one each from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Egypt.
They were detained before Malaysia imposed movement and business curbs on March 18, aimed at containing the spread of the pandemic, and did not have any interaction with others who were detained after that, Noor Hisham said. Felipe Gonzalez Morales, the UN's Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants said on Wednesday that Malaysia's approach was not helping to curb the coronavirus pandemic. "The current crackdown and hate campaign are severely undermining the effort to fight the pandemic in the country."
(With agency inputs)