SINGAPORE: The Pasir Panjang Wholesale Market was closed on Saturday night for three days, in a move to stop the spread of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in the community.
A 45-year-old wholesaler has been diagnosed with SARS, together with a 54-year-old cabby who ferried a SARS victim who worked in the market.
That SARS victim, who has since died, was a vegetable wholesaler.
His wife and son also have SARS.
Another market worker, a 72-year-old man, fell ill on Friday and has been warded.
The two were among five new cases reported on Saturday, bringing the tally to 177.
The news came at a press conference chaired by Health Minister Lim Hng Kiang, who called on the people to be on their guard over the next two weeks to fight the spread of the disease.
While the new development was cause for concern, he said he saw no need for undue alarm as more people would have come down with SARS by now if the bug had spread more widely.
Until Saturday night, SARS cases had occurred mainly in hospitals, transmitted by people who were sick.
Other cases involved those who were with sick SARS patients at home.
The 24-hour Pasir Panjang Wholesale Market has 1,000 tenants in 26 blocks, including an eatery and a supermarket.
News of the shutdown, aimed at thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting the market, caught wholesalers by surprise.
Police vans and cars blocked the entrance, keeping out trucks and vans that had formed a line along the road.
Sharon Toh, who manages the eatery, said: “We were already hit by the recession. It’s going to be worse now. It will take a while before customers come back.”
The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore assured the public that vegetables sold here are safe to eat in a statement released yesterday. – The Straits Times/Asia News Network