Bahrain coronavirus field hospital Sitra
A Bahrain Defence Force medical personnel wearing a protective face mask works at a makeshift ICU "Field Intensive Care Unit 2 (Sitra)" set up by Bahrain authorities to treat COVID-19 critical patients. Image Credit: Reuters

Cairo: Cost of treating expatriate workers should be borne by their sponsors, a senior Bahraini lawmaker has said, as the country is battling to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

“The state is responsible for providing medical treatment for citizens, but treatment fees of the expatriate labour and the holders of flexible work permits should be the responsibility of their sponsors or the workers themselves,” added MP Mamdouh Abbas Al Saleh, the head of the Services Committee at the Bahraini parliament.

“When the expatriate labourers feel the scale of responsibility and financial cost of treatment they will bear, this will increase their commitment to social distancing and observing preventive directives. But when they and their sponsors get the impression that treatment, housing and food are paid for by the state, this would make them lax and careless,” he was quoted by Al Bilad newspaper as saying.

He called for banning foreign labour gatherings and stopping giving away iftar meals to expats.

“Food is plentifully available and most foreign workers are not in need of food. They need care and awareness. This way of food distribution increases costs of their treatment,” MP Al Saleh warned.

“Iftar activities for foreign workers should stop. Those in need can turn to the designated outlets in this regard.”

He also called for expediting the return of illegal expatriates to their home countries in coordination with their respective embassies in Bahrain.

On Friday, Bahrain reported 220 new coronavirus cases, including 158 among expatriate workers.