Residents and traders want migrant market workers checked for virus


Enhanced MCO has been imposed around Jalan Othman in Petaling Jaya Old Town, after 26 Covid-19 positive cases were detected in the area.

Petaling Jaya Old Town residents and traders hope the authorities will be able to do thorough Covid-19 testing now that the neighbourhood is cordoned off with barbed wire.

They want the authorities to check migrant workers who may have slipped through the cracks prior to this.

Yesterday, the enhanced movement control order (MCO) was implemented at Pasar Besar Jalan Othman and surrounding neighbourhoods until May 23 as 26 Covid-19 positive cases had been detected.

Some 2,900 residents as well as traders are affected by the enhanced MCO.

Petaling Jaya 1B Rukun Tetangga chairman Kok Kuan Young hoped no one would slip away from the lockdown as there were a number of migrants living in the neighbourhood who worked at the wet market.

“We worry that these migrant workers who commonly live in cramped conditions may go untested. Worse still, they may return to the market when it reopens.

“The lockdown will be pointless if efforts are not made to track all of them down for testing, ” said Kok.

He said Old Town comprised houses in Section 1,2, 3 and 4. However, those affected by the lockdown consist of about 100 houses in Section 2,60 houses in Section 3 and 100 houses in Section 4.

He said the resident leaders within the zones had been preparing for a possible lockdown based on what was taking place at the market over the last few weeks.

“We have leaders within the community in lockdown areas who will be looking out for the needs of old folk and underprivileged. If they need any medical supplies or help, they will call the authorities or some of us from Section 1.

“We are a close-knit community and ready to extend help, ” he said.

However, Kok expressed worry that the migrant workers may have left the area before the lockdown was implemented.

“I hope they don’t hide to avoid being tested. This is the challenge the authorities will have to face in ensuring they too are tested, ” he said.

Section 3 resident S. Sathia Seelan Sharma, 41, who lives 200m from the market, said residents had predicted a lockdown would take place and stocked up on essentials for at least two weeks.

However, he is worried that he will not be able to bring his four-year-old son to the hospital to remove stitches from a minor injury.

“As of now (Sunday), I was told I can’t leave to go anywhere.”

Sathia said he was unsure how residents would obtain fresh produce such as vegetables during the enhanced MCO.

“We have stocked up on frozen food that can last for two weeks. After the lockdown came into force, someone came to our house to do a survey.

“We were asked about the number of occupants and our needs. We said we would need diapers for the children, ” said Sathia, an information technology engineer.

A poultry seller who did not want to be named said he was unhappy over how the Covid-19 testing was done at Pasar Besar Jalan Othman last week.

“First, they selected just the fishmongers and food sellers for testing because the first case was a fishmonger.

“The rest of us pleaded to be tested at the market but were turned away.

“We were told to get tested on our own or if we were high risk, we would be tested at the government clinic.

“I spent my own money to get tested at a private hospital and the results were negative. But the authorities later asked me to get tested after they detected five cases in the market and did not bother about my prior test results.

“A lot of time was wasted and we now have 26 cases. I hope they can trace all the undocumented workers so they can be tested too, ” said the trader who has had no source of income since the market was shut down.

Meanwhile, Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah and Bukit Gasing assemblyman Rajiv Rishyakaran gathered food packs which consisted of non-perishable items that would be distributed to affected residents.

Rajiv said his office was on standby to receive any queries and ready to assist the residents involved in the lockdown.

“Residents can call us at 03-2935 9135 and we will be there to help, ” said Rajiv.

Maria said, “We put together about 1,200 food packs and handed them over to the Welfare Department who later helped to distribute them to residents. We may do another round later.”

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