Singapore allays fears of food shortage after Malaysia shuts border

Singapore raised its alert level on the virus in early February which sparked panic buying. (Pic courtesy of Eric Hui)

SINGAPORE: A Singapore minister said on Monday the city-state would not run out of food, seeking to allay concerns after neighbouring Malaysia announced it was closing its borders to prevent a further spread of the coronavirus.

Tiny Singapore imports the bulk of its food supply and Malaysia is a key source. Many citizens also commute daily between the two countries.

The government has been actively working with firms to increase Singapore’s stock of food and essential supplies over the last two months, according to Chan Chun Sing, Singapore’s minister for trade and industry.

“This means that we are not in danger of running out of food or other supplies brought in by our retailers,” Chan said in a Facebook post.

Singapore has local production capabilities for products such as noodles, infant milk powder and canned goods, he said.

He added the city-state could ramp up production quickly if needed, and that it had diversified sources of essential goods.

He said, however, people should buy only what they needed.

When Singapore raised its alert level on the coronavirus in early February, it sparked panic-buying of essentials in some shops across the Southeast Asian island.

Malaysia and Singapore, which separated in 1965 after a brief union in the years following independence from Britain, have close economic ties.

Around 300,000 people a day move across the land checkpoints between the two nations.

Businesses that employ Malaysian workers who commute between the two countries daily may have to activate their business continuity plans because of Malaysia’s new steps against the coronavirus, Chan added.

Malaysia said it would shut its borders to travellers, restrict internal movement, close schools and universities and order most businesses to shut after its number of coronavirus cases climbed on Monday to the highest in Southeast Asia.

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