Quarantine woes hit Penang’s shoebox family

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GEORGE TOWN: A security guard and his family, who live in a tiny room above a restaurant, now have to contend with a Covid-19 quarantine on top of all their problems.

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Paner Selvam Subramaniam, his wife and three young children are among 28 people who live in rooms sublet by the restaurant operator in a two-storey house on Jalan Utama, near the Penang Hospital.

One of the tenants tested positive for Covid-19, and all 28 people in the building were told that they have been placed in quarantine.

Paner, who will miss two weeks’ work, is worried about feeding his family, as no one can leave the building to buy food. The restaurant downstairs is closed and its operator says he cannot afford to supply them with meals every day.

The family’s latest difficulty comes just two weeks after an FMT report on their plight touched the hearts of Malaysians. The state government also promised to find them a home.

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In the meantime, they live in a room only as big as a queen-size bed. Everyone in the building shares an outhouse toilet cum washroom, despite the risk of infection.

One of the tenants of the house is the brother of the Covid-19 patient, a 25-year-old worker at an electronics factory in Bayan Lepas who had returned from his home town of Baling, Kedah.

The main tenant, Ismail Mokhtar, 39, who has been running the shop for over a year, said he is going broke, having supplied meals for all 28 people in the house for the past three days.

At least 10kg of rice was needed, along with protein food such as eggs and sardines, and other items. he said.

He has appealed for help.

FMT has alerted Penang executive councillor Phee Boon Poh about their plight. He has said the matter would be looked into. -FMT

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