Some Malaysians playing sick by faking Covid-19 tests

Employers believe that the possibility for abuse is there with the current Covid-19 reporting system as no medical certificates from a physician are required.

Imran Hilmy, Ragananthini Vethasalam and Aliza Shah

Imran Hilmy, Ragananthini Vethasalam and Aliza Shah

The Star


Bad form: The Star has found several videos on social media showing ways to manipulate test kits to give false positive results.

March 16, 2022

PETALING JAYA – Some unscrupulous workers are faking their Covid-19 test results to stay away from work, and several groups are calling for further improvement of the MySejahtera app to check such abuse.

The Star also found videos that are being circulated on social media platforms on how the Covid-19 saliva test kit can be manipulated to give false positive results.

“This is the time we make use of the virus,” said a user who posted a picture of a saliva test kit in an anti-vaxx Telegram group.

The comment garnered support from the rest, with some even admitting to doing it.

“Their boss even had to shut down their operation because they had no workers since many of them were quarantined,” said a woman.

Meanwhile, The Star was made to understand that authorities in the Health Ministry and Labour Department have not received complaints on employees faking Covid-19 results.

However, employers believed that the possibility for abuse is there with the current Covid-19 reporting system as no medical certificates from a physician are required.

Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) president Datuk Dr Syed Hussain Syed Husman believed that the possibility of the Covid-19 self-report procedure to be abused is real, thus it is very important for employers to remind their workers of the consequences if they get caught cheating.

“Employers should manage the abuser under its own disciplinary action.

“Stern action should be imposed on the abuser because such abuse will jeopardise company operations and mislead the authorities who are working to manage the pandemic,” he added.

SME Association of Malaysia president Ding Hong Sing said there have been cases of employees faking their Covid-19 results but it is not widespread.

“Many companies will ask the positive Covid-19 patients to take another test either through the company or a clinic to verify the results,” he said.

He said the employees will only be allowed to take medical leave once the test results are verified.

Ding added that strict procedures will be needed to combat this problem, given the possibility that the test results of another person could be used in place of the employee’s own results.

Meanwhile, Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) President Tan Sri Soh Thian Lai said no such cases have been reported among its members.

“However, FMM has yet to receive feedback from members regarding Covid-19 related fake information i.e. fake results of RTK-Ag and RT-PCR tests in hospitalisation leave claims by employees but the concern is that false claims may increase eventually due to the absence of a system to curb dishonest practices by employees,” he said.

Therefore, he said, before such practices becomes “uncontrollable”, preventive measures must be taken to stop any impact on operations, especially in labour-intensive industries.

“Further tightening of the Covid-19 infection incident reporting is required, especially information which is not updated by authorised persons. Right now, what appears in the MySejahtera is the update following the declaration of the individual who is infected,” he said.

“The issue here will be subsequent events such as the need to self-quarantine due to infection which requires some honesty in reporting by an employee.”

As the system (MySejahtera) does not cater for validation of the information except for an image of the Covid-19 test to be uploaded based on the RTK-Ag self-test kit which is currently advocated to be sufficient, there could be a tendency for anyone to act dishonestly and claim for hospitalisation leave,” he added.

He said the MySejahtera app which currently accepts photos of the test results must be further modified to include a feature where a medical practitioner could remotely validate the health status or condition of the employee claiming to be unable to report for work and requiring home quarantine.

He added that FMM will continue to engage the government and relevant stakeholders on the improvement of the functions in the MySejahtera app to manage the abuse or misuse of the standard operating procedure (SOP) during the pandemic.

“At the same time, members will be advised to be more cautious of this potential employee relations issue of false reporting and deal with delinquent employees according to the company’s disciplinary process.

“If employers suspect their workers are using such tactics, they should investigate and take the necessary disciplinary action,” he added.

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