THE Covid-19 infections detected among retail workers and visitors at shopping centres in the Klang Valley have made people wary and mall management teams are taking extra precautions.
Five cases were identified over the past nine days at various malls in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, involving either employees or visitors.
They are The Linc KL, Suria KLCC, KL Gateway Mall and NU Sentral in Kuala Lumpur, and Sunway Pyramid in Petaling Jaya.
To allay people’s fear, all the operators said they had taken immediate action to disinfect their premises and that standard operating procedures (SOP) were being followed strictly.
Checks by StarMetro at some of the shopping complexes in various parts of Klang Valley found that while some had noticeably fewer visitors, others were still drawing a crowd, especially during lunchtime.
Malaysia Shopping Malls Association president Tan Sri Teo Chiang Kok said in a statement that all the shopping centres had sprung into action following the detection of Covid-19 infections and disinfected their premises thoroughly.
“This was done in compliance with Health Ministry’s guidelines.
“All those who came into close contact with the confirmed cases had been advised to self-quarantine,” he said.
He emphasised that even before the incidents of infections, shopping centres were sanitising their facilities frequently.
“Escalator handrails, lifts, balcony railings, balustrades, sitting areas, directory boards and washrooms are sanitised regularly to keep shoppers safe.
“Although our members are cooperating and following the SOP and other guidelines strictly, the infections were found.
“It is a difficult situation for all of us and we are doing our best for the safety of everyone.
“It does not help that some who are infected are asymptomatic. They can be in our midst and we will not know.
“Everyone should take responsibility for themselves and ensure personal hygiene, keep clean and follow the SOP of using a mask, sanitise hands regularly and practise physical distancing,” added Teo.
In light of the situation, shopping centres have taken to various platforms to keep customers and tenants updated while some use the opportunity to dispel unverified Covid-19-related information regarding their premises.
One example is 1 Utama shopping centre in Petaling Jaya that has refuted a message circulated via WhatsApp saying its maintenance employee has been infected with the virus.
“There are no confirmed Covid-19 cases here to date and spreading such rumours is irresponsible. It could cause panic, besides affecting our business,” said a statement from 1 Utama management.
The Linc KL announced in an online post on Sept 24 that the parent of a child from the children’s centre in its building, Trinity Kids, had contracted Covid-19.
A follow-up post on Sept 25 said all teachers at the premises had tested negative and that the centre was allowed to resume operations.
KL Gateway Mall management said in its own online post that an office at Menara Suezcap 1, linked to the complex, would remain closed until further notice.
The notice was put up after an office employee had come into contact with an individual who tested positive for Covid-19 upon returning from Sabah.
The employee later tested negative.
Sunway Pyramid said in its statement posted on Sept 26 that frequent disinfection of the premises was being carried out.
The statement was issued following a confirmed case involving an employee at the Nike outlet in the mall.
NU Sentral also posted a statement that an employee had tested positive for Covid-19.
It stated that all those who were in close contact with the infected person as well as other employees were tested, and the initial results had come back negative.
It further said that all employees were, however, told to self-quarantine for 14 days.
A gym at Suria KLCC –- Babel -– stated on its website on Tuesday that tests conducted on those in close contact with a confirmed Covid-19 patient had come back negative.
The gym management said it had reached out to all those identified and that those tested were told to self-isolate as stipulated under the home surveillance order.
Suria KLCC Sdn Bhd public relations and communications manager Serina Khairi said the mall management worked closely with Health Ministry and that a thorough disinfection of the entire building was conducted.
“This includes frequent contact points as well as changing rooms for babies.
“We understand that children and the elderly are vulnerable groups.“Suria KLCC does not anticipate any adverse impact on business as the situation has been contained.“The shopping centre remains open as usual,” she said.
In a news report, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah was quoted saying shopping complexes where Covid-19 infections had been detected were allowed to remain open, provided that disinfection had been carried out.
He said the ministry would assess the risks in an area based on the floor space.
“If the area is sufficiently large, they will be allowed to continue operations but if the area is small and cramped, like in a restaurant, then it needs to close,” he added.
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