Coronavirus fear pushes visitors away from malls

by HARIZAH KAMEL / pic by RAZAK GHAZALI

DETECTED Covid-19 cases in major shopping malls recently have prompted patrons to avoiding malls altogether due to fear of infections.

A legal practitioner who resides in Shah Alam, Selangor, said she does not feel safe to visit malls anymore as the Covid-19 cases are spiking, especially in malls at the Klang Valley.

“Malls are huge public places, visited by people from all over the Klang Valley and neighbouring states. The virus could easily be ‘transported’ and spread by visitors.

“Even if visitors are now required to wear face masks at all times in public places, there is still no guarantee that the virus couldn’t spread,” she told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) under the condition of anonymity.

She pointed out that some malls may have taken an active precaution by sanitising their premise hourly, but during the period between the first sanitisation and the second round, people are still exposed to the risks of infection.

“There are still 59 good minutes left of ‘infection window’ before the next sanitisation,” she added.

In Kuala Lumpur (KL), however, some who are working nearby malls still frequent them, especially during lunchtime.

A bank personnel working within the vicinity of several shopping malls including Suria KLCC, which was visited by a member of fitness centre Babel Fit who later tested positive for Covid-19, told TMR that he would still go to malls due to convenience.

“As long as it is (the mall) still practising and complying with the standard operating procedures (SOPs) and myself as well. For me, it is on the individual, either to comply with the quarantine period or the mall’s rules,” he added.

Yesterday, the management of Suria KLCC stated that an extensive contact-tracing exercise was conducted immediately upon being alerted about the Covid-19 case involving a member of Babel Fit.

“As a result, Babel Fit received an official confirmation that all tests conducted on those identified as being in close proximity to the affected member returned as negative,” it said.

“Suria KLCC is working closely with the Ministry of Health as well as the National Security Council in undertaking the necessary measures and precautions to ensure the health and safety of all its stakeholders,” it added.

However, a manager who wished to remain anonymous said she commutes to work by using public transportation on a daily basis and is now hesitant to go outside.

“Due to the rising cases, I have decided to work from home for a week or two. I want to avoid crowded places as much as possible, especially public transport in KL because it’s risky for me,” she told TMR.

When asked if she thinks some malls have become negligent to adhere to the SOPs, she responded that mall operators are doing their best to keep people safe and comfortable, as well as the economy going.

“People need to be more considerate of others and should lay low for a few weeks by limiting themselves from public places,” she added.

The increasing number of cases in Sabah has been alarming since it first transpired from the Benteng Lahad Datu cluster on Sept 1.

The state has since topped the list of most positive cases across Malaysia and with evidence showing the virus has been transmitted in Selangor, creating the Jalan Apas cluster.

Health DG Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the new cluster involved a couple who had a history of travel to Tawau and Semporna, Sabah, from Sept 13 to 16.

After showing symptoms on Sept 18, the couple sought treatment at a medical centre on Sept 19 before being referred to Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital, Klang on Sept 24.

Following being positive on Sept 26, they were admitted to Sungai Buloh Hospital and early screenings of the close contact found six more positive cases on Sept 27, making a total of 66 individuals being screened (during press time).