GEORGE TOWN, Sept 3 ― The Batu Lanchang Market here which resumed business just two weeks ago has been ordered to temporarily close again today, after four new Covid-19 cases were detected.
The market was shut for two weeks the last time it had Covid-19 cases and only reopened on August 18.
Local government committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo said the closure was to allow for sanitisation works and for all involved traders to undergo screening.
“A lot of other public markets in Penang have been ordered to close every other day, yesterday, Rifle Range and Bukit Gedung markets were also ordered to close,” he told reporters at Batu Lanchang Market this morning.
This does not only affect public markets on the island but also on the mainland as several markets in Seberang Perai, namely Taman Bagan, Permatang Tinggi and Kampung Baru, were ordered to temporarily close yesterday.
The duration of the closure of the markets ranged from three days to two weeks, depending on final instructions from the state health department.
Jagdeep said this does not only affect public markets in the state but also other private premises such as restaurants and shops which were ordered to close by the state health department once cases were detected.
The closure of the Batu Lanchang market will affect 180 traders and all of the traders will have to undergo screening and only those with negative results are allowed to resume operations once the market is allowed to reopen.
“The only way we can prevent this is to ramp up vaccination of all traders and hawkers while at the same time to conduct regular screening,” the state exco said.
He said the screening should be conducted every two weeks for better preventive measures so there is a need for the price of Covid-19 rapid antigen self-test kits to be lower than the announced ceiling retail price of RM19.90.
“If we look at a family of four, it will cost them up to RM80 to get the self-test kits so this is too prohibitive for the general public,” he said.
He said the ideal price is to lower it to RM10 per kit or less so that more people can afford to get it to conduct self tests at home.
Jagdeep said the state’s free Covid-19 mass screening programme (PSC19) which targeted 40,000 people was highly successful in which 46,875 people registered for it.
He said he will study the need to introduce the PSC19 again and submit a report to the state by the middle of September.
As for the recently concluded mobile Covid-19 vaccination programme for hawkers and traders, Jagdeep said a total 17,340 individuals registered for the programme.
However, only 11,000 doses of vaccines were prepared by the state government in collaboration with the local government and housing ministry for the programme.
“The programme was held in all five districts in the state between August 31 and September 2 and all doses were given out,” he said.
He said the state will consider pursuing a second phase of the programme to reach out to more hawkers and traders.
“We will look at whether we can reach 100 per cent vaccination of registered adults in Penang by the middle of the month and move from there,” he said.