Skip to main content

Advertisement

Advertisement

Pek Kio hawker centre reopens as probe continues

SINGAPORE — Investigations into the source of the stomach flu outbreak in the Owen Road area have not concluded, the authorities said in an update on Friday (May 27), adding that Pek Kio hawker centre will continue to be kept under “close surveillance”.

Stallholders at Pek Kio hawker centre reported seeing up to 70 per cent fewer customers after it reopened on Friday.  Photo: Wee Teck Hian

Stallholders at Pek Kio hawker centre reported seeing up to 70 per cent fewer customers after it reopened on Friday. Photo: Wee Teck Hian

Follow us on Instagram and Tiktok, and join our Telegram channel for the latest updates.

SINGAPORE — Investigations into the source of the stomach flu outbreak in the Owen Road area have not concluded, the authorities said in an update on Friday (May 27), adding that Pek Kio hawker centre will continue to be kept under “close surveillance”.

The hawker centre reopened on Friday after being closed for two days for cleaning and disinfection. The shutdown was a precautionary measure prompted by more than 180 cases of gastroenteritis in the Owen Road area since last Monday. So far, 144 of these have been confirmed to be linked to the outbreak. Seventeen people have been admitted to hospital, although seven of them have been discharged.

These details were given on Friday in a joint statement from the National Environment Agency (NEA), Ministry of Health, Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority and national water agency PUB. They also addressed public speculation that pigeons or rats could have contributed to the outbreak, saying that, in medical literature, cases of animal to human transmission are rare.

Instead, they noted that “overwhelmingly, reports in literature record rotavirus as being transmitted from person to person by the faecal-oral route”, such as by consuming contaminated food or drinks, or being in close contact with an infected person.

The authorities also reiterated that rotavirus was not detected in any of the food, water and environmental samples collected from the food outlets after they were alerted to the outbreak.

TODAY visited Pek Kio hawker centre on Friday morning, where hawkers reported seeing up to 70 per cent fewer customers.

One of them, Mr Lim Wee Khiang, 62, said he would normally have sold around 250 plates of carrot cake by noon. “Today (Friday), it dropped by a quarter.”

Even coffee shops in the vicinity saw their sales dwindle, instead of being visited by customers who would have otherwise patronised the hawker centre.

Madam Janet Chen, 47, the owner of Choon Seng Teochew Porridge at a nearby coffee shop, said her takings had halved since Wednesday, as diners stayed away from the area.

“Most of our customers come from all over Singapore. They might have avoided the area after hearing news of the gastric flu outbreak,” she said.

Lunchtime customers at the hawker centre were unfazed, noting that the stallholders would probably be extra careful about hygiene after the incident. “As long as the food is cheap and nice, I will continue to come back,” said Mr Ravi, who had lived in the area for more than 27 years.

Others, such as Kent Road resident Madam Zhang, 74, said she preferred to cook her own food for now.

In the statement, the NEA said it was aware of the sudden closure’s “unavoidable impact” on the hawkers, who have had to dump perishable ingredients that could not be kept for two days.

The NEA said it would waive two weeks’ rental — from May 25 to June 7 — for the stallholders “on an exceptional basis in view of the short notice for the closure on public health grounds”. The move was in response to the feedback from the stallholders and Mr Melvin Yong, the area’s grassroots adviser and Member of Parliament.

Mr Yong, who had lunch with Jalan Besar GRC MP Denise Phua at the hawker centre, told TODAY the Tanjong Pagar Town Council has agreed to waive one month of service and conservancy charges for the hawkers.

Read more of the latest in

Advertisement

Popular

Advertisement

Stay in the know. Anytime. Anywhere.

Subscribe to get daily news updates, insights and must reads delivered straight to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, I agree for my personal data to be used to send me TODAY newsletters, promotional offers and for research and analysis.