Fishmongers who collect supplies from the Senoko Fishery Port are seeking further explanations from the authorities, following the “sudden” order they received from the National Environment Agency (NEA) officers to stop operating immediately despite their COVID-19 test came out negative, while Singapore Food Agency (SFA) allowed the fish port to continue operation.
A fishmonger, namely Three Kings Hand Slam Fish, took to Facebook on Sunday (18 July) noting that they had undergone the COVID-19 test after receiving a message from the Ministry of Health (MOH), and their result came out negative about half an hour later.
Given their negative COVID-19 results, the fishmongers then proceeded to buy their supplies at the Senoko Fishery Port to sell at their respective markets.
“Because we thought gov will still let the remaining 20% seafood supplies for Singapore consumption after Jurong Fishery port (~80 % of S’pore supplies) shut down on 17 July,” he explained.
But upon reaching their markets, they received orders from NEA officers to shut down immediately “as per MOH’s order”.
“This came sudden and huge shock to us. Pls do not ask us how we dealt with the unsold seafood,” he added.
The incident has led the fishmongers to question the authorities: “ Why are we allowed entry to Senoko Fishery Port, if there might be a plan to lockdown?”
They also questioned the point of having COVID-19 tests the day before the closure order was issued, and wondered if the authorities – MOH, NEA, SFA, and Health Sciences Authority (HSA) – even communicate with one another on the issue.
NEA orders to close markets, but SFA says Senoko Fishery Port can continue
Singapore has two fishery ports, Jurong Fishery Port and Senoko Fishery Port.
Earlier on Saturday (17 July), MOH said that COVID-19 clusters had been uncovered involving fishmongers who had visited the Jurong Fishery Port to collect supplies and sell at their respective markets.
In a statement, the Ministry said that it was investigating seven cases of infection among individuals at the Jurong Fishery Port as of 16 July, adding that the premises have also been closed for deep cleaning until 31 July.
All who worked at the Jurong Fishery Port between 3 July to 16 July have already been placed on quarantine, while Special Testing Ops are ongoing for all visitors to the Port during that period.
Positive COVID-19 cases have been detected among fishmongers and stallholders at the following locations: Amoy Street Food Centre, 527 Ang Mo Kio Market, Bukit Timah Wet Market, Chong Boon Market & Food Centre, Chong Pang Market & Food Centre, Geylang Bahru Market, Geylang Serai Malay Market, Haig Road Market & Cooked Food Centre, Hong Lim Market & Food Centre, Jurong Central Plaza, Redhill Market, Shunfu Market, Taman Jurong Market, Telok Blangah Crescent Block 11, 726 West Coast Wet Market, and Whampoa Wet Market.
MOH also confirmed 88 cases of locally transmitted COVID-19 infection as of Sunday, of which 25 belong to the KTV cluster and 42 are linked to the Jurong Fishery Port cluster.
Following that, all stallholders selling fresh fish and seafood at markets managed by the NEA or NEA-appointed operators have been ordered to stop operating on Sunday.
In a joint statement, NEA and MOH noted that the stallholders will receive an SMS Health Risk Warning (HRW) indicating that the person is required to get a PCR test at designated testing centres.
They will be required to self-isolate and not leave their homes until their test result comes back negative.
The authorities added that stallholders who tested negative will be able to resume business immediately.
“In addition to the PCR test, fresh fish and seafood stallholders will be issued with self-test Antigen Rapid Test (ART) kits and are required to self-administer an ART test on the seventh day from the last exposure.
“They will also be required to undergo another PCR test at designated testing centres around the 14th day from their date of last known exposure,” said NEA and MOH.
SFA, on the other hand, said in a statement that the Jurong Fishery Port will be closed to the public from 17 July to 31 July, but the Senoko Fishery Port can continue operation with tightened safety measures in place.
This is to break the chain of transmission of COVID-19 infections detected in individuals who worked in or visited the fishery port, and to enable deep cleaning of the premises, said the agency.
“While Jurong Fishery Port is temporary closed, operations at Senoko Fishery Port (SFP) can continue. However, as a precautionary measure to prevent the possible transmission of the COVID-19 virus into SFP, entry into SFP will be further tightened and SMMs will be enhanced,” it stated.
SFA noted that only fish merchants, buyers, and related trade personnel are allowed to enter the Senoko Fishery Port from 17 July onwards, adding that they will be required to sign a form to declare that they have not visited the Jurong Fishery Port between 3 July and 16 July.
Those who have been to the Jurong Fishery Port between 3 and 16 July will not be allowed to enter the Senoko Fishery Port unless they were tested negative for the COVID-19 two days before visiting the fish port.
SFA will also increase screeners at the entrance to the Senoko Fishery Port to ensure TraceTogether safe entry with temperature checks, and enhance surveillance within the fish port.
Safe to say this explains why the fishmongers at the Senoko Fishery Port were confused with the closure order they received from NEA, given that the fish port was allowed to continue operation and that their COVID-19 results were negative as well.
Netizens slam authorities for “poor management”
Over on social media, many netizens commented under the Three Kings Hand Slam Fish’s Facebook post, slamming the authorities for such “poor management”, and criticising the Government’s “poor handling” on the whole situation.
One netizen wrote, “Oh dear, this is absolutely poor management n coordination. The authorities should compensate for their losses.”
“One disaster after another. The 4G ministers in charge are absolute failures. There no other way to look at this. They have no idea how to handle a crisis. It’s totally out of control n they have no idea what to do,” said another netizen.