With residents too old to cook, authorities told to allow food aid into PJ areas under lockdown

Soo Wern Jun
An elderly citizen is pictured at Petaling Jaya Old Town during the enhanced movement control order May 12, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

PETALING JAYA, May 13 — Several residents in Section 1 here have suggested that the authorities relax lockdown rules applied on residential areas surrounding the Jalan Othman wet market.

With no one other than state authorities allowed to send food supplies to the residential areas, neighbouring residents are requesting that they be allowed to send food supplies to family members and those who have special dietary needs.

Inadequate cooking ingredients

According to a sundry shop worker, some of the food aid to residents under lockdown is not suitable for cooking, especially for those with health issues.

“We received calls from our regular customers who live in the locked down areas, asking us to send some fresh produce to them otherwise they cannot cook a decent meal.

“Many of them are elderly people, and refrain from sugar consumption. But in the list of items sent to them, there is rice, sugar and flour,” said the worker who requested anonymity.

Among other food items sent to residents under lockdown include milk powder, canned sardine fish, salt, oil, biscuits, dried anchovies, dried chili, curry powder, rice vermicelli, chilli sauce and soy sauce.

“These are elderly people, some in their 80s and 90s. How are they supposed to cook a meal with these ingredients without any fresh produce?” the worker asked.

Not allowed to send food

The worker also added that those who are in their 90s cannot cook for themselves anymore, but they also do not have any other food source.

“They have children who live in the vicinity and would usually send food for them, but because the area is placed under lockdown, their children are not allowed to enter into the compound.

“Yesterday they tried to send cooked meals but after much negotiation and informing of the situation of their parents, they were turned away,” she told Malay Mail when met at the sundry shop.

It will be the third day that the parts of PJ Old Town surrounding the famous Jalan Othman wet market were placed under the enhanced movement control order (EMCO).

The lockdown was enforced following the advice of the Health Ministry after 26 positive Covid-19 cases were detected in the area to date.

The purpose of the EMCO is to facilitate house-to-house contact tracing measures while at the same time curb the spread of infection.

Under an EMCO, all residents are prohibited from exiting the designated zone throughout the period imposed and visitations from outside are also disallowed with all entry and exit routes blocked.

Unnecessary lockdown

Retiree Wong Ai Kwok speaks to Malay Mail from beyond the barbed wire fencing at Petaling Jaya Old Town during the enhanced movement control order May 12, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

However, long-time resident Wong Ai Kwok, 82, insisted it is not necessary for the authorities to cordon off such a huge area when only a small part of the residential area is affected by the Covid-19 infection.

“It’s just a small part of this housing area where a group of the foreign workers are affected.

“There had been no cases reported in this area and none of us locals are infected,” said Wong, when met outside her house which was surrounded by barbed wire.

She added that it is very inconvenient for elderly residents like her.

“Now we cannot even order food from the shops nearby because they are not allowed to deliver to us.

“I still have some groceries left otherwise I don’t know what I can do with the food supplies the authorities sent to us yesterday,” said Wong after she managed to collect two loaves of bread hung on a pole, which her friend passed to her through the barbed wire.

Wong said they are not allowed to walk around their housing compound and even exercise.

“I feel like we’re in prison. And people my age, we need to move our muscles otherwise they will become stiff and our joints will become weak,” she said.

But food is not her main concern, said Wong. For her, she is worried about a medical checkup due in June.

While the lockdown was initially announced to end by May 23, Wong said there’s been no update on the current situation in PJ Old Town after the last 26 Covid-19 cases were reported.

“I have high blood pressure, I must go for my check-up,” she added.

Although the public are not allowed to send food to residents within an EMCO area, an egg supplier who delivers supplies to sundry shops in PJ Old Town managed to hand over several cartons of eggs to a resident.

A resident collects cartons of eggs through barbed wire fencing on Jalan Pasar 1/21 in Petaling Jaya Old Town May 12, 2020. — Picture by Soo Wern Jun

The egg supplier, known only as Choo, said he came when he got a call from his friend who requested for eggs.

“He has a hawker stall on Jalan Othman but he’s now stuck inside, he can’t go to his shop.

“He also told me that there aren’t adequate ingredients to cook a meal. I managed to pass him some eggs,” said Choo, who did not collect money from his friend and hastily left in fear of being reprimanded by Armed Forces personnel who were guarding the residential area.

It is a common sight at PJ Old Town now, where friends and relatives drive by to hand over food items to families under lockdown, while trying to avoid the authorities’ attention.

Cooking for each other

Another Section 1 resident only known as Teoh said those who can cook are trying to do so for those who are in need and have no food supplies.

“There are some hawker stalls which are also under lockdown in the area. They still have some food items left from their daily food business operations.

“I have suggested for them to help cook lunch and dinner for those who really cannot afford to cook for themselves.

“In the mean time, a few of us are in touch with the assemblyman here to try to send some food supplies to the residents,” he said, referring to Bukit Gasing assemblyman Rajiv Rishyakaran.

Since the lockdown, several sundry shop workers who have attempted to send food to residents in the areas were issued stern warnings to refrain from crossing the road — Jalan Pasar 1/21.

Residents in the area are warned against approaching those under lockdown in Sections 2, 3 and 4.

The wet market, popularly known as the “Old Town market”, was previously shut down on April 27 after a 51-year-old trader from the seafood section tested found positive for Covid-19.

The trader reportedly tested positive for Covid-19 on April 24 and was part of the Kuala Lumpur wholesale market Covid-19 cluster, after going to the wholesale market to get new supplies.

Those who had been to the market between April 5 and 18, and purchased seafood have been advised to go for screening.

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