Extra preventive measures should be taken to stop the spread of COVID-19 among the workforce, especially foreign workers, said the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA).

Its president Dr N Ganabaskaran said more emphasis should be given to safe physical distancing, the wearing of face masks and personal hygiene among the workforce, with testing focused on foreign workers in line with Ministry of Health's (MOH) targeted approach to testing.

He said while testing for COVID-19 is important, more emphasis should be placed on preventing exposure to risks of infections.

"A person may receive a negative test result and still be exposed to infections the very same day after testing if preventive measures such as physical distancing and personal hygiene are not observed.

"With the increase in the number of COVID-19 infections among foreign workers (legal, illegal and undocumented), it is necessary to test this group with data entered into a registry," he said in a statement yesterday.

He said the majority of foreign workers in the country stay in overcrowded, cramped dormitories, construction site cabins, shop lot rooms, terrace houses or apartments where physical distancing and personal hygiene may be almost impossible to observe.

"An SOP (standard operating procedure) alone for foreign worker accommodation may also be needed along with random checks by the authorities.

"While testing of foreign workers will be necessary, steps must be taken to address the living conditions of foreign workers," he added.