GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government may have to explore targeted measures against factories to ensure that the standard operating procedures (SOP) are strictly in place to flatten the COVID-19 curve.

According to the state health department's statistics, the industry sector contributed 50 per cent of total COVID-19 cases in Penang, followed by prison clusters (16 per cent) and construction (four per cent).

Penang Trade, Industry and Entrepreneurial Development Committee chairman Datuk Abdul Halim Hussain said that although the industry sector contributed the most COVID-19 cases in the state, it did not reflect the whole industry as the cases revolved around several factories that are struggling to contain the pandemic.

"The management of these factories must take immediate action to ensure strict compliance with the SOPs to stop the spread now. If these factories do not improve, the state government may have to explore targeted measures to ensure their cooperation," he said in a statement today.

He said that retails and hospitality sectors, including petty traders and micro-entrepreneurs, have suffered the brunt of the movement control restrictions, despite contributing a small percentage of cases.

He urged the federal government through the National Security Council (MKN) and state health department to adopt a targeted approach and focused on the factories that are still adapting to the SOPs.

"We believe that the MKN, state health department and both Penang city councils (MBPP -Penang Island City Council and MPSP - Seberang Perai City Council) would be able to assist if these factories need assistance on how to flatten the curve and reduce the occurrence of continuous cases," he added.

Meanwhile, Abdul Halim, who is also the Batu Maung state assemblyman, said he had visited the workers' hostel at Solok Beringin, where around 150 Indonesian foreign workers held a peaceful protest on Feb 20 over their dissatisfaction for not being allowed to leave the hostel other than going to work.

He said that he contacted the Consulate General of Indonesia Bambang Suharto to calm the situation.

"On Feb 21, representatives of the Consulate General were also at the scene to discuss with the representatives of the employers and hostel management to resolve the issues raised," he added.