Singaporeans yesterday rushed to stock up on food amid fears of a disruption in supplies after Malaysia announced the closure of its borders to combat the spread of COVID-19, although the Singaporean government said there would be no shortages.
Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Monday announced that Malaysia would shut its borders, restrict internal movement, and close schools, universities and most businesses after its tally of coronavirus cases became the highest in Southeast Asia.
The order is to take effect today and last for two weeks, he said.
Photo: AFP / The Straits Times
Malaysia is a key source of staples for Singapore, which imports more than 90 percent of its food. Tens of thousands of Malaysians commute every day into the wealthy city-state to work in businesses from restaurants to semiconductor manufacturing.
“Who knows how long this shutdown will go on?” one 70-year-old retiree loading up his supermarket trolley with packets of noodles said. “We have to stock up to some extent, but what’s the point of hoarding stuff. No use for everyone to be panic buying.”
Supermarket chain Fairprice has started imposing purchase limits on essentials such as toilet paper, noodles, rice and eggs.
A shopper at another market told reporters that chicken and pork had run out, and prices of some vegetables had spiked.
A Singaporean minister sought to calm fears of shortages, saying the city-state had stocks of proteins and vegetables for more than two months of normal consumption, while stocks of noodles and rice would last for three months.
“We have plans to manage this contingency, with a combination of stockpiling, building up our domestic production capacities, and diversifying our supply sources to many countries,” Singaporean Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing (陳振聲) said.
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