‘Worse than COVID’: Bukit Merah hawkers say business badly hit after reports of


Mr Yong, a hawker who sells soup at ABC Brickworks, closed his stall due to the drop in business. 

The 69-year-old, who declined to give his full name, had gone for his mandatory screening on Thursday but decided to head home after. 

“When the newspaper announced the screening, there was a 50 per cent drop in business,” he said in Mandarin. 

“Since there is such a drop in business, I might as well take a break and don’t waste my time. If you cannot earn money you might as well rest. The ingredients I use to make my soup are not cheap,” he said. 

Another hawker whose stall sells satay and chicken wings described the situation as “very, very bad”. 

“Not only me, every store (is bad). I think it will be like this for a few weeks. Hopefully it will be better soon,” said Mr Lim, who also cited having 50 per cent fewer customers than before. 

Personally, Mr Lim is not worried about his health as he has read about how tuberculosis is spread.

According to MOH, transmission of the tuberculosis bacteria from active cases usually requires prolonged exposure – days to weeks of exposure rather than minutes to hours. It also said a person cannot get tuberculosis from sharing cups, utensils or food. 

Tuberculosis is also not spread through shaking hands, kissing or touching bed linens or toilet seats.

Referring to this information, a regular patron who gave his name as Mr Loh, said: “Life has to go on. You just have to take precautions.” 

Mr Loh, who was seen seated at the food centre, said he was in the area about four to five times a week to visit a relative. 

The 54-year-old, who works in the technology industry, intends to go for voluntary screening but notes that the disease is not as serious as COVID-19. 

“COVID is more serious, because it’s more infections and it spreads very fast and the impact can be felt within days. So this one probably we just have to be more cautious, so wear masks when necessary.”

Expressing the same sentiments, Mr Chua told the media: “TB is quite unlike COVID. It does not spread as easily.”

“There’s plenty of good hawker food here at this market,” he added.

“And I’m sure that we will all like to continue supporting our favourite hawkers so that their livelihoods are not too adversely impacted.”

Tuberculosis has a long latent period and may not develop into disease for months or years, MOH said previously. Those with latent tuberculosis infections do not exhibit symptoms, are not infectious and do not pose a public health risk. Only active cases are infectious.

Singapore saw 1,251 new active tuberculosis cases in 2022.

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