May 12, 2022

Workers at Jurong fishing port mix and do not wear masks that allegedly triggered the Covid-19 outbreak

  • Jurong fishing port workers removed their masks at work, surveys show
  • They also mingled with others throughout the facility and did not strictly follow delivery procedures.
  • Still under investigation, the possible spread of the disease by objects in the fishing port
  • Singapore seafood supply remains “stable” despite shutdown of leading seafood wholesaler, Ms Grace Fu said

SINGAPORE – Fishmongers who did not wear masks during laborious tasks or breaks could have led to an outbreak of cases at Singapore’s leading seafood wholesaler, authorities’ initial findings have revealed.

Jurong fishing port, being a market, also meant that workers and traders mingled freely throughout the facility, Ms. Grace Fu told parliament on Monday, July 26.

The Minister of Sustainable Development and the Environment added that contactless delivery measures were also not strictly followed.

The severe outbreak of cases at Jurong fishing port, with 858 infections linked to it on Monday, prompted authorities to tighten restrictions on Covid-19 from July 22 to August 18.

It is currently the largest active Covid-19 community cluster in Singapore.

Investigations are underway by the Ministry of Health and the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) to determine how the transmission occurred at Jurong fishing port, Ms. Fu said.

They are also investigating the possibility of the coronavirus spreading through objects in the port.

Ms. Fu said that mask wearing failure could be a result of the humid environment of the wearing, making it uncomfortable for workers to wear masks for long periods of time.

These workers also had to move crates, filled with fish and ice, each weighing up to 120 kg.

She noted that the breaches occurred while the security measures were in place. These included contactless delivery and controlled access to the facility allowing only workers and registered trade visitors to enter.

Before the fishing port reopens, there will be a second round of deep cleaning of the facility.

After reopening, the following operations must be carried out:

  • Regular cleaning of common areas and cash desks

  • Routine tests scheduled every seven days for all workers

  • Strengthening of contactless delivery protocols for truck drivers and boatmen

  • Rapid antigen test for trade visitors entering the establishment

  • More frequent patrols to enforce safety rules

Elsewhere, SFA audited the fishing port of Senoko and the wholesale center of Pasir Panjang for any gaps in safety protocols.

All the workers there are now swabbed for Covid-19.

The government is also looking to implement weekly routine tests and improve regulations at these facilities as soon as possible.

“An alternative site is made available for use in the event of a further closure of the fishing ports or the Pasir Panjang wholesale center,” Ms. Fu said.

Similar audits will gradually be rolled out to cover all other key food facilities, she added.

“STABLE” SEAFOOD SUPPLY

Responding to several questions from MPs, Ms. Fu said Singapore’s seafood supply had “remained stable” despite the disruption caused by the closure of the Jurong fishing port, which handles 30% of seafood imports. sea ​​of ​​the country.

It has been closed since July 17 for two weeks and all 684 port workers have been quarantined.

Seafood merchants across the island have also had to shut down operations and were only able to reopen after testing negative for Covid-19.

Buyers have rushed to supermarkets to buy seafood after hearing news of the closures, but restaurant restrictions under the ongoing heightened alert phase that began on July 22 have moderated some demand. said Ms. Fu.

The SFA and trade agency Enterprise Singapore had activated alternative arrangements to divert seafood supplies directly to distribution centers and supermarket retail outlets.

Some seafood stalls in some markets that have resumed operations have switched to supplying the fishing port of Senoko, which handles around 4% of Singapore’s seafood imports, Ms. Fu said.

Restaurants and brasseries are also now turning to frozen seafood, which is in “sufficient” supply, she added.

SUPPORT FOR HOLDERS, HOLDERS

To help hawkers navigate this disruption, the government announced last Friday a one-time S $ 500 cash assistance for each individual vendor of ready meals and market stalls at centers run by the National Environment Agency ( NEA) or operators appointed by the NEA.

This will be credited directly to merchant bank accounts in August.

This will be added to an additional month of subsidies for the cost of table cleaning and centralized dishwashing, and to a month of rent exemption.

The government will also provide a further four-week rental waiver for qualifying tenants on government-owned commercial properties.

People in quarantine can apply for the Quarantine Order Allocation program.

Low to middle income workers whose incomes have been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic can also apply for the Covid-19 recovery grant.

Those who continue to face financial problems can also turn to the NEA, who will review cases and provide support on a case-by-case basis.