Deep cleansing for yellow zones

The fire squad members disposing their hazmat suits after sanitising works at the temporary hawker site at Jalan Shaik Ibrahim in Tanjung Tokong. Starpic by LIM BENG TATT/The Star/30 March 2020.

THE Penang Fire and Rescue Department has started sanitisation works at two Covid-19 yellow zones in Penang - the northeast district on the island and central Seberang Prai on the mainland.

The sanitisation works were carried out at a temporary hawker site in Tanjung Tokong and the Ayer Itam market on the island, as well as the mainland’s Chai Leng Park market and Apollo market.

All four areas were sanitised and disinfected by the department yesterday.

Penang Fire and Rescue Department director Saadon Mokhtar said sanitisation efforts would be carried out from time to time after they obtain clearance from local authorities.

“Although we do not have red zones in Penang yet, we are taking preventive measures to sanitise the yellow zones.

“We will be sanitising public areas, and once we identify the areas, we ensure that the area is fully emptied before we start sanitisation works.

“This is to ensure that our operations do not face disruptions, ” he said during a press conference after a sanitisation operation at a temporary hawker site in Jalan Shaik Ibrahim, Tanjung Tokong.

During the operation, some 40 fire squad members were present, with 10 squad members in hazmat suits spraying disinfectants on all surfaces at the hawker site.

Saadon said for the time being, sanitisation operations would take place at central Seberang Prai on the mainland, and the northeast district on the island.

“Today, two separate teams of fire squads are carrying out the sanitisation, with one team on the island and one team on the mainland.

“Depending on the situation, we will carry out sanitisation works again from time to time, ” he added.

Saadon said the sanitisation works would be carried out together with voluntary fire squads on the island.

“We have also informed NGOs who want to carry out sanitisation efforts voluntarily to inform us of their efforts so that we can synchronise, ” he added.

Meanwhile, the Ayer Itam market is seeing sparse crowds after barricades were put up to prevent private vehicles from entering.

The market was closed to traffic yesterday, and as a result, the flow of people in the area was seen to be more orderly and manageable.

George Town OCPD Asst Comm Soffian Santong said the situation at the market had improved by 70% after the closure to traffic.

“We started barricading the roads around the market, including routes from Jalan Paya Terubong, Ayer Itam and Kampung Pisang.

“We prepared a special route for market-goers, with only one way to enter and exit the market.

“With these steps, we can see that the situation is more manageable now and the market-goers are also adhering to social distancing, ” he said during a press conference while monitoring the road closure at the Ayer Itam market yesterday.

ACP Soffian said a total of 60 police officers, Penang Island City Council (MBPP) officers, Rela and army personnel were stationed around the market to manage the crowd.

“We observed that the situation today is much better.

“But this time, we would like to urge market-goers, not only at this market but also in the entire northeast district to observe social distancing.

“We urge them to speed up their essentials buying process, and if possible, buy supplies which can last for more than two days.

“We do not want them to buy little supplies each time as this would cause many to have to commute to the markets regularly, ” he said.

ACP Soffian said the road closure around the Ayer Itam market would proceed until the movement control order (MCO) is over.

“As for the Jelutong and Jalan Perak markets, the situation there is under control, so we will not be doing road closures at both markets.

“We will continue to monitor the situation. If market-goers do not adhere to the MCO, we might close the road to traffic at the other markets as well, ” he added.

Ayer Itam assemblyman Joseph Ng, who was present, said he had lodged a police report on viral social media posts, which did not accurately reflect the situation at the Ayer Itam market on Sunday.

“The authorities are here every day to monitor the situation but yesterday there were viral posts on the market, saying it was uncontrolled and busy.

“So, I lodged a police report on this, ” he said.

ACP Soffian said they received Ng’s police report, adding that the case was under investigation under Section 505 of the Penal Code and under Section 233 of the Communication and Multimedia Act 1988.

The case was classified under Section 505(b) of the Penal Code for statements meant to cause public fear and trepidation and also under Section 233 of the Communication and Multimedia Act 1988, for improper use of network facilities.

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