Migrant foreign workers make up the bulk of the workforce in Malaysia’s manufacturing and construction sectors, which have spawned the most clusters of COVID-19.
Every day lately, one fifth to one quarter of the cases have been foreigners, who only make up about one tenth of the population.
So the federal government has launched a public-private partnership under which companies in key industries can get their workers vaccinated. They only have to pay a modest fee for each employee to offset administration costs, while the government provides the vaccines from China’s Sinovac free of charge.
As a result, foreign workers are starting to get vaccinated well ahead of when they might have expected, while millions of Malaysians are still waiting for their shots.
For migrant workers living together in crowded and often substandard hostels or even makeshift shacks, the specter of COVID-19 always looming nearby, it’s a huge relief.