Unnoticed, super-spreaders of Covid-19 could be on the move, perhaps even to your own home.
How do you protect yourself?
There are police roadblocks mounted on major roads in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur to implement the Movement Control Order.
In some areas like Kota Damansara, two of the roads leading to the Sungei Buloh road are completely sealed off with kenduri tents manned by two police officers. Motorists and riders have to detour either via the Tropicana road, the NKVE, or the LDP via the Surian underpass.
The enforced detour is a doubling of the distance and time from the Shell/McDonalds in Kota Damansara to the housing estates around Kelab Rahman Putra,Sungei Buloh.
From a mobility point of view, the roadblocks just make lives harder for workers who are unable to work from home. Probably, the blocks are a psychological tactic to amplify the MCO.
Anyway, beyond psychology, the road blocks and the tail-backs they cause are a definite deterrent to both productive workers and those with no business to be out and around.
With the Covid-19 pandemic as the most disruptive event in our lives, whether you’re a conspiracy theorists or a believer in medical science, it affects you in many ways.
Beyond the debilitating effects of the MCO on our economically productive activities, there’s also the uneasiness when we are sprayed with sanitisers at some shops. What stuff are they spraying?
But let’s look at the science of the Covid-19 from the viewpoint of mobility and transmission of this virus.
When the Covid-19 first emerged in January last year and was defined as a pandemic in March, there were many theories of how it spread.
There was the theory of fomite where we observed how gangs of sanitation workers in China sprayed disinfectant and used high-powered arrays of UV light in buses and trains to disinfect fomites – defined as surfaces from bus seats to table tops to reusable cloth masks (as opposed to disposable masks).
As of now, rather than fomites and faeces, the evidence points that the infection is spread by respiratory droplets – the medical term for the germs in sneezes and coughs — directly from people who have the Covid-19 virus but who don’t have the symptoms – asymptomatic – and some of whom are superspreaders, ie very infectious. By direct transmission rather than indirectly via fomites.
In Selangor and Klang Valley, who are those asymptomatics who have the super licence to pass roadblocks?
They are the mobility service providers especially riders for Grab Food, Food Panda, Lala Move, BungkusIt, etc.
What is troubling is that some of these food delivery riders will hang-around the popular food pick-up points in a group without physically distancing themselves from each other. Many medical observers say that a distance of 2 meters between persons is the minimum.
Some of the food delivery riders also smoke. To smoke, they will pull down their masks and all in a sociable group.
The next time you order food to be delivered to your house, if yours is a landed property, one way to minimise contact is to request the delivery chap to place the food on a bench outside. Leave a tip there for him since they don’t earn much anyway. And let him ride away before you take the package.
As for those who stay in condos, the latest rule is that visitors are not allowed to enter and food deliveries must be left with the guards.
We managed to get Grab’s attention to this and the initial response is that it will check on the bunching up of the riders outside food points.
“Some shops are small and they might not have space for the riders to park safely. Also, the riders, if they smoke, can’t smoke in the vicinity of a food outlet,” said Sarah, a manager from a PR agency representing Grab.
“But certainly we’ll flag this issue,” she said, responding to a proposal to help the riders distance themselves physically by 6 feet, and to be queued in a location safe from road traffic.
“The SOP is that its riders have to declare their health daily in a form that they have to fill up, including their temperature. There are constant reminders for them to mask up, wash their hands and to disinfect their food bags.
“We also promote contactless delivery to our riders and customers. For condos, the customer will go down to the guardhouse and the driver will stand about one meter away, or leave on the registration counters as requested.
“There’s a standing reminder for drivers and riders to keep a distance and not to be in a confined space.”
Besides the food that the riders deliver, we also don’t want them to deliver the Covid-19 virus.
Notwithstanding the reckless and illegal riding styles of some “Mobility as a Service” riders, their services are essential and safeguarding their health is a community responsibility.