Singapore ramps up switch to alternative seafood supply routes

Singapore has swiftly turned to alternative supply routes after a new Covid-19 cluster emerged at Jurong Fishery Port, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu said yesterday.

The port, which handles about 30 per cent of the nation's seafood imports, including those that arrive by land and air, is closed for two weeks until July 31 to break the chain of transmission and enable deep cleaning.

Speaking at the FairPrice Fresh Food Distribution Centre in Tagore Lane, Ms Fu told reporters that Senoko Fishery Port has been activated, and major wholesalers have been asked to boost their purchases so that they can continue to supply seafood.

She said: ''Our major supermarkets have also increased the stocks so that they can substitute for the wet markets.

''We've some stocks of frozen and chilled seafood, so we don't ex pect disruption or our shops to run out of seafood.''

The assurance comes after all stallholders selling fresh fish and seafood at markets managed by the National Environment Agency (NEA) or operators appointed by the agency were told to stop selling until they get a negative result from a Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction test.

The NEA and the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced the precautionary move in a joint statement yesterday. This comes after fishmongers who visited Jurong Fishery Port to collect stock were linked to the cluster.

Stallholders who are not selling fresh fish or seafood can continue to operate while testing takes place over the next few days, but all stallholders and stall assistants should get tested for the virus, the NEA and MOH said.

The Singapore Food Agency (SFA), in a Facebook post, said supermarkets remain well stocked with chilled and frozen seafood.

The supermarket chains have also been taking steps to raise their supply of seafood.

SFA said: ''We urge consumers not to panic buy or rush to purchase seafood. We will continue to work closely with our stakeholders to minimise any disruptions to our seafood supply.

''Consumers can play their part by buying only what they need, and by being open to switching choices within and across food groups as well as different food sources.''

While fishmongers have had to stop operating, it was business as usual for meat and vegetable stalls when The Straits Times visited several wet markets yesterday.

There were long but orderly lines at Yuhua Village Market and Food Centre, with customers seen observing social distancing.

Stallholder Mariati Rahim, 44, who sells halal beef, lamb and poultry, said business was brisk. ''This is because of Hari Raya Haji, and we are the only halal stall open now in this wet market,'' she added.

The Muslim festival is celebrated tomorrow, which is also a public holiday.

There were 88 new locally transmitted Covid-19 cases confirmed at noon yesterday, including 25 linked to the KTV cluster and 42 linked to the Jurong Fishery Port cluster. Of the 88 cases, 10 are unlinked. There were also four imported cases who had been placed on stay-home notice upon arrival in Singapore.

The total number of cases in the country stands at 63,073.

Rei Kurohi and Cheryl Tan

  • Additional reporting by Tay Hong Yi, Chairmaine Ng and Adeline Tan
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 19, 2021, with the headline 'Singapore ramps up switch to alternative seafood supply routes'. Subscribe