Toa Payoh hawker centre closed after stall assistant who allegedly visited KTV lounge tests positive for Covid-19

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Deep cleaning being carried out at the food centre at Block 75 Lorong 5 Toa Payoh on July 15, 2021.

SINGAPORE - The hawker centre at Block 75 Lorong 5 Toa Payoh underwent deep cleaning on Thursday morning (July 15) after a stall assistant who allegedly visited a KTV lounge over the weekend tested positive for Covid-19.

ST understands the stall assistant is linked to the rapidly growing KTV lounge cluster, which now has 88 cases.

A crew of six people wearing personal protective equipment spent about an hour spraying disinfectant and wiping down the tables and chairs at the 36-stall hawker centre managed by NTUC Foodfare.

Notices put up around the hawker centre by Bishan-Toa Payoh Town Council said it would be closed until further notice, with deep cleaning and disinfection to be carried out on Thursday and Friday.

The Straits Times understands the hawker centre has not been ordered to shut.

Instead, it was cordoned off by the town council, which manages and maintains the hawker centre premises, to facilitate cleaning.

The town council did not respond by press time to queries about when the hawker centre would reopen.

Stallholders told The Straits Times they were notified about the positive case at about 3pm on Wednesday.

They were issued with 14-day quarantine orders and given three hours to pack up and go home, said Mr Tan Boon Chuan, 50, secretary of the hawker centre's stallholder association.

"It was very sudden and the whole hawker centre was a mess. Everyone was anxiously packing up," Mr Tan, who runs a dessert stall there with his wife, told ST in Mandarin.

He said he had to throw away all of the ingredients he had prepared for the day and would likely have to dispose of the rest he had to leave behind at his stall.

"We are just waiting to be tested," Mr Tan said on Thursday, adding that he and most of the hawkers are fully vaccinated.

Swab testers visited the homes of some of the stallholders on Thursday morning to test them for Covid-19.

The hawker centre is expected to be closed until July 25. ST PHOTO: STEPHANIE YEOW

Madam Ang Goon Lay, a 65-year-old drinks stall owner at the hawker centre, tested negative after taking an antigen rapid test, said her daughter, Ms Lim Jia Hui.

The 27-year-old said her mother, who is fully vaccinated, received a call from the Health Ministry and thought it was a scam at first.

Her mother was not worried about contracting Covid-19, but is concerned about the loss of income as she is only allowed back at work on July 25, Ms Lim added.

It is not clear whether the hawker centre will remain shuttered after it is cleaned as the stallholders serve their 14-day stay-home notice.

The crew spent about an hour spraying disinfectant and wiping down the tables and chairs at the hawker centre. ST PHOTO: STEPHANIE YEOW

Mr Tan said he is hopeful that the hawker centre can reopen soon as the positive Covid-19 case was absent from work this week.

He said the stall assistant who tested positive had allegedly visited a KTV lounge on Sunday.

The man, who is said to be an assistant at Fang Yuan Satay, did not turn up on Monday and went to see a doctor on Tuesday after feeling ill, Mr Tan added.

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"It should not affect our hawker centre because he didn't come into contact with the people here (while he was sick)," the stallholder said.

Asked about the hawker centre's temporary closure and his loss in income, Mr Tan said: "We are not the only hawker centre to have a case, so we are mentally prepared that this could happen. We interact with so many customers, it is inevitable."

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