Why focus on malls and not factories, govt asked

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Putrajaya has come under question for its focus on suspending operations at major shopping centres listed under the HIDE system of potential hotspots, while ignoring factories and other places which contribute to a bulk of cases.

Some 152 premises on the HIDE list were told to close for three days yesterday evening, including major Klang Valley malls such as 1 Utama Shopping Centre and Mid Valley Megamall, and supermarkets such as Tesco (Lotus).

The Edge Markets

In a posting on Facebook today, former journalist Yow Hong Chieh, quoting published figures, said that only 4.8% of cases from clusters between Feb 22 to April 2 involved shopping areas.

By contrast, factories made up 48.1% of cases in that same period, followed by communities (12.6%), construction sites (11.6%), detention centres (5.6%) and educational institutions (5.5%).

“According to the HIDE FAQ, 90% of cases come from 0.2% of premises registered on MySejahtera, so either factories, construction sites, detention centres and the rest are not using MySejahtera or HIDE is targeting the wrong premises,” he said.

“Of course, it’s difficult to know how HIDE, which was developed by the health ministry and Bank Negara Malaysia, arrived at this list.

“Aside from vague mentions about variables (like crowd density, space constraints, etc) and backwards contact tracing, we don’t know how it works.”

He said he suspected that HIDE merely focuses on premises with public traffic, which would explain why malls, train stations, supermarkets and convenience stores comprised most of the list.

Yow was not the only Malaysian questioning the HIDE list, with Kampung Tunku assemblyman Lim Yi Wei saying mall operators would be unhappy to be singled out when most Covid-19 cases came from workplaces.

“I don’t see gyms or other sports facilities listed as potential hotspots. So when is the youth and sports ministry going to make a second U-turn?” she asked in a Twitter post yesterday.

A Twitter user under the handle @zudeen questioned why HIDE was not extended to factories when it was among the major contributors to infections.

Another user, @nizambakeri, asked in jest if the HIDE system intentionally wanted to “hide” factories.

Earlier today, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng claimed that Putrajaya was practising double standards with the HIDE closures, after all public transport stations and terminals listed as “potential hotspots” remained open, although business premises were required to close.

“There is no reason why shops with no Covid-19 cases must close, just because a nearby shop has Covid-19 cases,” he had said. – FMT