Ramping up face mask production: Home Ministry told to ease foreign worker hiring

PUTRAJAYA: The Cabinet has asked the Home Ministry to give leeway to face mask producers to hire more foreign workers to ramp up production in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said today.

She told reporters after chairing a special meeting on COVID-19 here that the matter will be handled by the Home and Human Resources ministries very soon.

Dr Wan Azizah, who is also National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA) chairman, explained that before the new coronavirus outbreak, face masks were only used among healthcare personnel but demand skyrocketed followed the spread of COVID-19.

“Face mask producers told us that they need to operate round the clock (three shifts) to ramp up production.

“However, there will still be control on the intake of foreign workers because we do not want a surge (of foreign workers) in the country,” she said.

Dr Wan Azizah said steps to supervise the supply and pricing of face masks in the market had been taken to prevent purchase in bulk to be brought out of the country.

Directives had also been issued to the state headquarters and branches of the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry to ensure that sellers exercise self-control and do not sell in bulk to customers, she said.

“There are quotas for the sale of face masks so that there is adequate supply in the country and to prevent parties buying in bulk to be sent overseas,” she added.

In Kuching, meanwhile, the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry said it has received 250 complaints concerning face masks in the wake of COVID-19 infections.

Deputy Minister Chong Chieng Jen said the ministry also received complaints concerning the price of hand sanitisers, he told reporters after the launch of the Consumer-Government Expo here today. – Feb 14, 2020, Bernama

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