Pulau Tikus folk taking no chances


A view of the quiet and traffic-free Burmah Road in George Town. — Photos: CHAN BOON KAI/ The Star

WITH three Covid-19 cases found at Penang Adventist Hospital (PAH), folk in Pulau Tikus, George Town, have started limiting their movement and cutting down on dine-ins while traders crank up precautions.

Local businesses in this busy suburb, where the hospital is, are suffering from a drastic drop in customers, but most interviewed did not mind the slow down because they understood the need for the public to stay home unless it is necessary to come out.

At a nasi kandar outlet in Midlands Park One-Stop Centre, owner M. Basha, 32, said business fell by about 80% almost overnight.

“The hospital is just opposite our cafe and we usually cater to a lot of nurses, families of patients and hospital staff as we are nearby.

“During lunchtime, we get a lot of customers but these few days, it has been too quiet.

“Right now, our only customers are the nursing students living in nearby hostels. They come here for takeaways and bring the food back to their dorms.

“Although business is bad now, we are okay with it. We understand and we are wary and afraid of too many people crowding here too, ” he said yesterday.

Fewer people dining in at a usually busy coffee shop in Burmah Road.Fewer people dining in at a usually busy coffee shop in Burmah Road.

A nearby chicken rice shop owner, Tan Yan Hooi, 35, said his staff members were aware of the situation and expressed their concerns.

“Fortunately, many who come now only buy takeaways. Few dine in as they too are scared.

“A lot of the hospital staff and nurses are under quarantine at the moment and there has been a 50% drop in the number of customers.

“As the hospital shut down for the weekend to sanitise, we lost a lot of customers who would come for lunch.

“We had to donate leftover food to nearby charity homes.

“But it is alright for us, we prefer the hospital taking stringent action so that people in this neighbourhood and ourselves feel safe, ” he said at his shop in Burmah Road.

Customers lining up for takeaways at a shop in Burmah Road.Customers lining up for takeaways at a shop in Burmah Road.

At another nearby coffee shop, ‘lor mee’ stall owner Jessie Lim, 62, said all the hawkers at the shop were now extra diligent with the standard operating procedure and their own hygiene.

“We take absolute caution, change our masks every few hours and keep sanitising our hands.

“We are not taking any chances.

“Even one of our hawkers, a noodle soup stall operator, was requested to stop his business for two weeks as his wife works at PAH, and we want to be cautious and safe.

“Understanding everyone’s concerns, he agreed to stay home for two weeks, ” she said.

Lim said customers dining-in have dropped by about 20%.

More people are resorting to  takeaways as they don’t want to  sit around for long, says Lim.More people are resorting to takeaways as they don’t want to sit around for long, says Lim.

“More people are resorting to takeaways as they don’t want to sit around for long.

“But this is good. It is safer for them, and safer for us, ” she added.

On Aug 7, a 56-year-old woman (Case 9129) from Kulim was admitted to PAH due to a leg wound infection and was asymptomatic upon admission.

Through contact tracing later on, she was identified as a close contact and sister-in-law of the index case in Kedah’s Tawar

cluster and was transferred promptly to the Penang Hospital, where she tested positive for Covid-19 on Aug 13.

On Saturday, the Health Ministry reported that Case 9129 led to four second generation cases: two female patients aged 71 and 80 in PAH and two more cases in Kulim, who are Case 9129’s 58-year-old brother and 52-year-old sister-in-law.

We had to donate leftover  food to nearby charity homes,  says Tan.We had to donate leftover food to nearby charity homes, says Tan.

Two doctors and 57 nurses of PAH were ordered to home quarantine.

The Tawar cluster involved a family who attended a memorial service of the death of a family member from July 31 to Aug 1.

The Health Ministry is still investigating the source of this cluster.

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