Over 500 foreign workers in Pudu screened for Covid-19 as area opens up for business under CMCO

Health workers help a Pudu resident reach the Covid-19 screening area at the Pudu Market in Kuala Lumpur May 5, 2020. — Picture by Radzi Razak
Health workers help a Pudu resident reach the Covid-19 screening area at the Pudu Market in Kuala Lumpur May 5, 2020. — Picture by Radzi Razak

KUALA LUMPUR, May 5 — More than 500 foreign workers in the Pudu wet market and surrounding areas in Kuala Lumpur were screened for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) as the area turned busy after businesses were allowed to open under the conditional movement control order (CMCO).

Since 8am, authorities including personnel from the Health Ministry, police and the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) officers started rounding up foreign workers, most of them working and living in the market and businesses around Jalan Pasar Baharu and Jalan Yew here.

“We are screening those who live and work here to see if any of them are infected. If more than 10 are confirmed as positive cases, the area might be closed down,” an MOH officer told Malay Mail.

The officer, who declined to be named, said the team conducting the test are from the Selayang Hospital and Cheras health district.

Nazeem Ahmad, a worker from Bangladesh, said policemen wearing full personal protective equipment (PPE) knocked on the door of his house this morning and asked them to go out for the test.

“All five of my housemates went down and queued up with the others for the tests. We are all healthy. We hope everyone here is not sick,” he said, adding that he and his housemates all worked menial jobs in shops near the wet market.

Meanwhile a store manager Christine Tan said that the authorities did not close down her shop, but asked if her workers should be screened.

“My shop is still open, our workers have all gone through screening. The police just wanted the workers who are not screened to get the test today,” she said.

Tan also said that there are more than 500 foreign workers in Jalan Pasar who lived in the apartments and shophouses in the area.

“Most of them are Bangladeshi, Indonesian, China and some Vietnamese as well,” she said while observing a medical tent set up about 30 metres from her shop.

The authorities were also seen assisting elderly people in getting in front of the queue with one of them even carrying an elderly woman who was too weak to walk from her house in front of the wet market to the screening area about 60 metres away.

Several health workers get ready at the Covid-19 screening area at the Pudu Market in Kuala Lumpur May 5, 2020. — Picture by Radzi Razak
Several health workers get ready at the Covid-19 screening area at the Pudu Market in Kuala Lumpur May 5, 2020. — Picture by Radzi Razak

The police, some of them geared in full PPE, assisted health personnel by going door to door, asking people to come down for the screening.

In the surrounding area, where most businesses were opened, the road was packed with people who had started going out for work.

The banks, electrical and hardware stores were also crowded but they were seen observing social distancing and staff were taking temperatures of people queuing up to get in.

Mechanic shops were among the busiest, a mechanic who only wanted to be known as Seng said customers suddenly arrived in droves yesterday.

“You’ve got people changing their batteries, tires, lights and other things that they were unable to do since the movement control order (MCO) started two months ago. So we are busy as we need to meet their demand,” he said.

In another part of Kuala Lumpur, traffic congestion was seen around Brickfields, especially at Jalan Tun Sambanthan, with the usual sight of cars double parking on the side of the road.

“Yes, there are more people today than last week. I think because most of the office and businesses around here have reopened,” said S. Munusamy, a shopkeeper in the area.

N. Uma, a resident in Brickfields said the place was crowded but most of the shop owners and their staff are adhering to health SOPs set by the government.

Meanwhile, Kampung Baru did not change much since the MCO started on March 18 with very minimal movement seen at Jalan Raja Uda, Jalan Raja Mahmud and Jalan Raja Alang.

Only a handful of shops are open in the area and mostly only to cater for takeaway food services.

The area, famous for varieties of food including Nasi Lemak, East Coast fare, tom yam and other famous Malay centric Malaysian foods was very different since MCO took effect in March.

A resident, Ahmad Saiful Baharuddin, said the lockdown of nearby areas of Jalan Raja Bot and part of Chow Kit Market also contributed to the “quiet” atmosphere.

“Even with Ramadan, the fasting month... there are no bazaars, we are not allowed to go to mosque, so things are very quiet,” he said.

On April 17 to April 21, more than 600 Kampung Baru residents underwent the compulsory Covid-19 screening test, following the classification of the area as one of the red zones.

The screening session was held at the Sekolah Rendah Agama Jalan Raja Muda Musa.

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