Forum: Extra care needed at hawker centres to prevent spread of virus

A photo of a lunchtime crowd at the Maxwell Food Centre.
A photo of a lunchtime crowd at the Maxwell Food Centre.PHOTO: ST FILE

Now that the Wuhan virus has arrived in Singapore, it is imperative that Singaporeans change the way they socialise and eat at hawker centres.

Any infected person would spread the infection swiftly in a crowded hawker centre, where constant interaction between cleaners, hawkers and patrons takes place.

Cleaners need to wear masks and gloves. Their constant contact with people and used utensils could put them in harm's way.

Hawkers need to start wearing masks, even if the humid weather makes it uncomfortable.

Patrons need to be more conscientious. As the incubation period of the virus is between one and 14 days, one cannot be certain whether anyone has caught the virus.

Patrons must return used utensils so that they do not put the next table user or cleaner at risk. They should not place used tissues on the table.

Singaporeans were very hygiene-conscious during the severe acute respiratory syndrome epidemic. After so many years, they have forgotten the lessons they learnt and are now back to their old ways. Awareness of personal hygiene needs to be instilled in Singaporeans.

Bill Chua Yew Thwan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 28, 2020, with the headline 'Extra care needed at hawker centres to prevent spread of virus'. Print Edition | Subscribe