February 16, 2021 @ 3:23pm
KUALA LUMPUR: The Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca) has called for the authorities to categorise retail workers as frontliners.
Its president, Datuk Dr Marimuthu Nadason, cited the Jalan Telawi cluster which was a case of supermarket workers becoming infected with the Covid-19 virus.
"Supermarket and retail outlet workers have extensive exposure daily to their customers. During the entire pandemic, retail stores have been open to cater to the needs of the rakyat for food and other essentials.
"Retail workers are exposed to their customers, including those who may refuse or neglect to follow the standard SOPs such as wearing masks or keeping a 1m distance from others. This exposes the workers to risk," he said in a statement, today.
On the other hand, he said, if for some reason the workers themselves are infected, especially with no symptoms, they can be a source of infecting other workers and customers, exposing consumers to risk.
Marimuthu added that in some ways, retailers have been on the frontline throughout the pandemic serving consumers in which they live and work.
Throughout the pandemic, consumers have had access to food and other essentials, a crucial component in enabling consumers in facing the lockdowns, he said.
"As such Fomca urges the authorities to move retail workers to the front of the line for early inoculation.
"While healthcare personnel should certainly be given the highest priority, we would like to suggest that retail workers, as they are constantly interacting with large numbers of consumers every day, be also given priority to not only protect themselves but equally important to protect consumers," he said.
The Jalan Telawi workplace cluster saw infections in Lembah Pantai and Titiwangsa. The index cases tested positive on Feb 2 after a targeted screening of workers from a supermarket in Jalan Telawi, Bangsar Baru. A total of 150 people have been screened, with 21 found positive.