You won’t get TB just by eating at ABC Brickworks Market: Ong Ye Kung, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

You won’t get TB just by eating at ABC Brickworks Market: Ong Ye Kung

Patrons should not worry about catching tuberculosis (TB) from eating at the ABC Brickworks Market and Food Centre in Jalan Bukit Merah, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said in a Facebook post on Jan 14.

He shared that he had visited the market for dinner and found that it was “markedly quieter than before”, and added that hawkers told him many were hesitant to visit because they were worried about catching TB.

Mr Ong said that most visitors are unlikely to catch TB just by visiting the hawker centre, as the disease is “spread after close and prolonged exposure, usually days to weeks”.

He added: “Therefore, a person may get TB if they live or work daily with someone infected.

“They cannot get TB by sharing cups, utensils or food, through hand shaking, or having the occasional meal at the hawker centre.”

The Health Ministry said on Jan 5 that 10 new TB cases were genetically linked to a cluster at Block 2 Jalan Bukit Merah, which first surfaced in 2022.

A mass screening exercise from Jan 11 to 15 was announced, which is mandatory for some people who frequent Jalan Bukit Merah, including employees at the food centre.

The screening, which is voluntary for others, is a precautionary measure to identify TB cases among those who live or work in the area, and is also offered to those who often visit the area, said Mr Ong in his social media post.

He added: “The vast majority of us don’t fall into this category, so please go ahead and enjoy the good food at ABC. Let’s support our hawkers.”

Mr Ong had dinner at the centre with Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth Eric Chua, who is a Tanjong Pagar GRC MP, and said he had claypot rice, oyster omelette and chendol.

On Jan 12, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu also dined at the food centre, with fellow ministry office holders Amy Khor and Baey Yam Keng, after reading news of the slow business there.

She said in a Facebook post: “If you are in the Bukit Merah area and looking for affordable good eats, why not drop by ABC Brickworks Food Centre to show support to our hawkers?”

To date, more than 1,500 people, representing about 93 per cent of eligible residents, have signed up for the mandatory screening.

All of the active TB disease cases have been treated and rendered not infectious.