GEORGE TOWN, Sept 9 — Five public markets and five construction sites have been ordered to close by the authorities over the past week after Covid-19 cases were detected, said state exco Jagdeep Singh Deo.
The local government committee chairman said there must be no compromise in stopping the spread of the disease.
“Even if one case is detected, we will order for the market to be closed, we are not taking this lightly so if there are cases, we will be strict to take immediate action,” he said in a press conference this morning.
Penang Island City Council (MBPP) Mayor Datuk Yew Tung Seang said the five construction sites were issued stop-work orders after cases were detected at their locations.
“There were about 500 cases detected at those sites involving mostly foreign workers,” he said.
Jagdeep said 70 per cent of the cases in Penang involved foreign workers in factories and construction sites.
Saying this showed a pressing need to vaccinate the group, he said he was looking at vaccination programmes for foreign workers, including non-registered workers.
The state officials said there was hesitancy among this group as some could be undocumented and worried about coming forward for vaccination and testing.
“The federal government has to come up with a policy to target this group as a majority of our cases involve foreign workers,” he said.
He said the state was looking for ways to address this issue, including building more work hostels.
“We now have 11 schemes for 73,839 workers that have been built, under construction and under planning,” he said.
Other than that, these workers must be placed at the factories or far from residential areas.
“We have 85 temporary labour quarters to place them for the short term and this can house up to 5,200 workers but we need to look at areas with larger spaces to house more,” he said.
Jagdeep also reiterated his call to Putrajaya to make Covid-19 vaccination mandatory.
However, he also warned that those who are fully vaccinated are not invincible as they can also still contract the virus if they are not careful.
He said it is still important for everyone, even the fully vaccinated, to continue to practice strict SOPs to prevent infection.
According to Yew, out of the 3,021 staff in MBPP, a total 221 had contracted the virus since the start of the pandemic last year.
“Out of this number, 33.48 per cent have been fully vaccinated and have passed the two weeks period after the second dose so we still need to comply with the SOPs,” he said.
He said one MBPP staff, who had only received his first dose of the vaccine, had passed away due to Covid-19.