In wake of Covid-19 outbreak, food deliveries go up in Kuala Lumpur as riders are extra vigilant about hygiene

Malaysia

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Food orders have gone up since the outbreak of Covid-19. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Food orders have gone up since the outbreak of Covid-19. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

UALA LUMPUR, Feb 20 — In many cities in South-east Asia, food and grocery deliveries have gone up since the Covid-19 outbreak.

Kuala Lumpur is no different.

While the city’s eateries are not quite as deserted as those in neighbouring countries, there has been a significant uptick in food orders.

Fadhil Hassan, a GrabFood rider who works the Gombak and Sri Petaling areas, said his delivery rounds have increased since last week.

“You can tell that people are cautious about going out to restaurants.

“But for us riders, this is our job. We depend on it for a living. Rain or shine, we still need to earn a living,” he said when met by Malay Mail outside a popular bubble tea cafe on Jalan Genting Klang.  

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Fadhil, who has been working as a food delivery rider for two years, said this is the busiest he has been since he started.

While riders are at a higher risk of being infected since they are out and about so much, all of them are advised to follow the precautionary steps announced by the Health Ministry.

According to Syafiq Hassan, another food delivery rider, vendors (cafes and restaurants) have also put in place their own precautionary measures to help keep hygiene in check.

“Most of the vendors prepare a hand sanitiser at the counter for us riders to use before we pick up the food.

“That is quite a proactive way to reduce the risk of infection. Especially now that we are picking up more orders, it means that we are meeting more people,” said Syafiq.

Another GrabFood rider, who only wanted to be identified as Danies, said his daily orders have increased up to 20 in the span of seven hours.

“I am a part-time rider, so I can only start after my classes. Usually I’d arrive between 2pm to 4pm.

“Before this, the maximum orders I’d get is about 15. In the last two weeks, I have been able to make 20 deliveries between 4pm and 12 midnight,” he said.

Food delivery rider Syafiq Mohd Kori said he too noticed that there has been a spike in orders in the last two weeks.

Food delivery riders have become extra careful about hygiene as they are out and about doing more food deliveries. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Food delivery riders have become extra careful about hygiene as they are out and about doing more food deliveries. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

“It was a bit slow last month, but in the last two weeks orders increased.

“Who isn’t scared when the virus is spreading so fast? We as riders are scared too, but we try our best to take precautions,” he said.  

Adwha Farhan, a rider with Foodpanda, said food delivery is definitely one way of reducing human contact in public thus reducing the risk of infection.

“Delivery promotions also recently kicked in to help make prices more affordable.

“I think this helps for people who prefer to stay in as delivery fees are quite expensive if you make frequent orders,” he said.

A McDonald’s delivery rider who requested anonymity said fast food joints usually have very high traffic for food delivery.

“But the virus worries us too. We are scared too because we are constantly in contact with people.

“But life goes one for us. Whether there is a virus or not, we carry on with our job as food delivery riders,” he said.

Even online grocery delivery company HappyFresh said its mobile application experienced significant search number spikes for a number of items.

Its managing director Hu Hun Hui said in the space of a week, the most searched-for item was Dettol followed by face masks (both had a more than 90 per cent search increase) and hand sanitisers (85 per cent search increase).

“This sudden rise is a clear indication of the perceived severity of the coronavirus pandemic among our customers,” said Hu.

Meanwhile it has been reported that fast-food companies in China have ramped up “contactless” pickup and delivery services to keep their workers and customers safe.

The contactless pickup system requires customers to order remotely – either on mobile phones or by ordering stations in store — following which employees will seal the meals in bags and put them in a designated spot either in store or where the customer lives/works for pickup without human contact.

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