The Toa Payoh Night Vegetable Market has been temporarily closed for two weeks after multiple Covid-19 cases were identified at the market, according to Chinese Daily Lianhe Zaobao (Zaobao).
Stall vendors told Zaobao reporters that they were notified by the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) last week of confirmed Covid-19 cases at the market.
The stall vendors had then decided to voluntarily close the market for two weeks, beginning from Friday, Sep. 3, 2021.
According to Zaobao, authorities had not instructed the market's mandatory closure, rather, the vendors had decided to temporarily suspend operations on their own.
The closure could be because of the open nature of the roadside market, which made the implementation of SafeEntry (for tracking purposes) at the market's entry and exit points difficult.
Vendors said that they may also delay the reopening of the market, if the situation did not improve.
Source of transmission not yet identified
One wholesaler told Zaobao that based on his knowledge, more than 10 individuals have been confirmed to be infected with Covid-19, although he was not yet aware of the source of transmission.
The wholesaler, who is a confirmed Covid-19 case, added that the Ministry of Health (MOH) had classified him as an unlinked case.
According to the latest MOH update as of Sep. 8, the Toa Payoh Night Vegetable Market is not yet identified as a Covid-19 cluster. It is also unclear if other confirmed Covid-19 cases from the market might have been detailed under other clusters.
According to an infographic by Zaobao, the current distribution of Covid-19 confirmed cases in the Toa Payoh area is as follows:
- One student from Guangyang Secondary School
- One employee from Marymount Convent School
- Eight students from Madrasah Irsyad Zuhri Al-Islamiah School
- One employee from First Toa Payoh Primary School
- 17 individuals from Orient Goldsmiths & Jewellers
- 174 individuals from Toa Payoh Bus interchange
- At least 10 reported individuals from Toa Payoh Night Vegetable Market
Several stalls had been empty; the vendor added that some delivery drivers had later informed him that the market was temporarily closed due to identified Covid-19 cases, with several wholesalers on quarantine.
The vendor, who explained that he has always been careful in operations and is fully vaccinated, added:
"I don't know how big the impact radius might be, but the Toa Payoh bus interchange cluster has already made folks very anxious. I hope that this incident will not affect our businesses further."
SFA: Working with operators to monitor situation
In response to queries from Mothership, SFA confirmed that operators at a privately managed secondary distribution site for fruits and vegetables at Toa Payoh East Lorong 7 have voluntarily suspended operations for 14 days, with effect from Sep. 3.
According to SFA, this was carried out as a precautionary measure after Covid-19 positive cases were detected among operators there.
The authorities are currently working with the operators to monitor the situation.
SFA also reassured members of the public that the closure has a negligible impact on food supply, as the site serves a small client base.
It said that Singapore currently imports food from more than 170 countries/regions, and that a multi-pronged strategy continues to ensure the resilience of Singapore's food supply.
SFA added that while there may be temporary disruptions to the supply of food during the pandemic, the supply of food is still stable.
"Consumers can play their part by being open to switching choices within and across food groups as well as different food sources."
Background of Toa Payoh Night Vegetable Market
The Toa Payoh Night Vegetable Market, which is located at Toa Payoh East, has a long history of over 40 years.
It has about 10 or so vegetable stalls, and typically operates from 11pm to 6am.
The wholesale market is unique in that vendors typically hawk boxes of vegetables to customers from the roadside.
Because most of the vegetables are imported from Malaysia, the price of the vegetables tends to be cheaper than at other locations, making it a popular choice amongst residents and hawkers/merchants.
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