Companies take precautions to keep workers safe

Senior Minister of State Amy Khor observing NEA officer Mohd Shah Al-Nawaz inspecting and treating a drain in Paya Lebar Way yesterday. Dr Khor said that while the Zika infection is less serious than dengue, the public still needs to be concerned bec
Senior Minister of State Amy Khor observing NEA officer Mohd Shah Al-Nawaz inspecting and treating a drain in Paya Lebar Way yesterday. Dr Khor said that while the Zika infection is less serious than dengue, the public still needs to be concerned because of the risk it poses to pregnant women.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Company fund for mosquito repellents and patches - check.

Advisory to employees to pack their lunches and eat in the sanctuary of the office - check.

Businesses in the Kallang Way industrial estate are taking steps to protect their workers in the wake of news that it is one of two new spots where Zika patients live or work.

On Tuesday, the authorities confirmed 26 more cases of locally transmitted Zika infections; five of them are based in Paya Lebar Way and Kallang Way.

Ms Jessica Chiah, 43, a senior indoor sales manager from engineering firm Te Deum, told The Straits Times yesterday that her employer told her to use company money to buy mosquito repellents and patches for employees.

She added that she immediately checked on her 26-year-old colleague, who is three months pregnant. "I asked her to take care by wearing mosquito patches, and explained how the virus affects unborn babies," she said.

 

DVI Media, meanwhile, advised its employees to pack their lunches and eat inside the office. Alternatively, they could travel out and have their meals farther away from the affected area, said its finance manager Jennifer Ang, 44.

Over at Paya Lebar Way which, along with Kallang Way, is part of an extended Zika cluster, the mood was equally sombre, with some hawkers reporting a dip in business.

Ms Cindy Chen, 41, a stall assistant at a vegetarian stall at MacPherson Market and Food Centre in the heart of Paya Lebar Way, said business has plunged 50 per cent, citing the Zika virus as a possible reason.

She said she and her boss, Mr Edwin Lee, 49, were on their guard against the mosquito-borne virus. "We are taking precautions not to accumulate water," she said yesterday, adding that she sprayed repellent on herself. Other hawkers also said they did not see the usual lunch crowd.

Another stall experiencing lower footfall was Madam Poh Poh Gek's vegetarian food stall at Circuit Road Food Centre. She said that business is less than half of what it used to be, although the 62-year-old admitted that other factors, such as stricter parking enforcement, might play a part.

The food centre is smack in the middle of Paya Lebar Way and Kallang Way, but Madam Poh said that she does not feel the need to slather mosquito repellent on herself as she lives in Punggol, which at the time was unaffected by the spread of the disease.

Madam May Wong, 60, lives at Block 60, Paya Lebar Way and works as an administrative assistant at the MacPherson Moral Family Service Centre located at Block 91, Paya Lebar Way. The centre gives out mosquito patches to the elderly and calls up its pregnant clients to check up on them. "The elderly are mostly aware of what is happening and take precautions," she said.

National Environment Agency officers yesterday carried out vector control operations, with officers and contractors fogging the area around Block 120, Paya Lebar Way. Drains in the area were treated with granular insecticide to destroy potential mosquito breeding sites.

They also visited the homes of residents in the area to carry out misting to keep mosquitoes at bay.

Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources and Health Amy Khor, who was visiting residents of the block, said that while the Zika infection is less serious than dengue, the public still needs to be concerned because of the risk it poses to pregnant women.

"All of us need... to join in this collective effort as a community to keep ourselves safe and to protect others, including pregnant women, and the best way to do this is to prevent mosquito breeding," she said.

 

Mr Dennis Sing, 50, who works in Ubi, said yesterday that he had not heard the latest news when he came to MacPherson Market and Food Centre for lunch. "Now that I know there is Zika here, I will definitely think twice and cut down on coming here," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 01, 2016, with the headline 'Companies take precautions to keep workers safe'. Print Edition | Subscribe