By Erda Khursyiah Basir
KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) – With Hari Raya Aidilfitri just three days away, Malaysian Muslims whose kampungs are in the same state where they work and live can thank their lucky stars that they are allowed to balik kampung.
During the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) from May 4 to June 9, interstate travel is banned except for emergency purposes. However, inter-district travel within the same state is allowed during this period.
Those celebrating Hari Raya with their families must, however, do themselves and the nation a favour by not going overboard in their celebrations. The green light for travel within the state is not a ticket for them to throw caution to the wind by ignoring the standard operating procedures (SOPs) set by the government to stem the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
The government has stressed the importance of observing self-discipline and self-regulation during the celebrations to ensure that there is no resurgence of COVID-19 cases.
Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob made it clear during his media briefing on May 18 that the police and army would patrol housing areas during the Hari Raya celebrations to ensure that the SOPs related to home visits are being followed.
If many vehicles are found parked outside a residence, the authorities will not hesitate to conduct a check to find out exactly how many people are gathered there, he warned.
Festive visits are allowed on the first day of Raya but, depending on the size of the residence, only a maximum of 20 people are allowed at any one time.
PREVENT HARI RAYA CLUSTER
Sharing his views, public health expert Dr Shawaludin Husin told Bernama that considering the nation is still not free from the COVID-19 menace, it is best that people celebrate Hari Raya moderately in their own homes.
Stressing that the nation could not afford to deal with a “Hari Raya cluster”, he said Malaysians could learn a lesson or two from a recent incident in Bahrain where 16 members of a family were infected with the COVID-19 virus after breaking fast together.
According to news portal Saudi Gazette, the virus was spread to others by one of the family members who was COVID-19 positive. The report also stated that the family concerned had defied the ban on gatherings and neither did they wear face masks nor observe social distancing.
Said Dr Shawaludin: “Although inter-district travel (within the same state) is allowed, the people must practise self-regulation because our nation is still fighting the virus. The people must realise that they have to prioritise their safety and not get carried away with the festive celebrations.”
He said Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah had on his Facebook account shared that the integrated efforts of the authorities have succeeded in reducing new COVID 19 cases during the entire MCO and first 10 days of the CMCO, as well as lowered the COVID-19’s contagiousness or R-nought value to 0.3 from 3.5.
Pointing to the R-nought value, Dr Shawaludin said it should be brought down further.
“What we are worried is that if people start travelling freely (festive visits within the state) during Hari Raya, it may trigger a new wave of infections,” he said.
CONNECTED BY TECHNOLOGY
Dr Shawaludin said festive visits can be allowed if the people are willing to comply strictly with the SOPs which include observing social distancing and refraining from shaking hands and hugging.
The Ministry of Health (MOH), meanwhile, has also urged the people to avoid the 3Cs, namely crowded places, confined spaces and close conversations, and heed the 3Ws namely washing hands frequently, wearing a face mask in public places and warning by MOH to stay at home and only go out if they have something important to do.
“If you need to go visiting, don’t spend too much time on it. If your house is small and narrow, don’t go inviting the disease by receiving many guests. Then again, the guests should know their responsibilities too as COVID-19 is an issue affecting all the people,” said Dr Shawaludin.
A better and safer option for people to convey their festive greetings to their family and friends will be via applications such as Zoom, Skype and WhatsApp video calls, he said.
Festive visits are not encouraged because “people in the high-risk groups such as senior citizens suffering from chronic illnesses and children below two years of age can get infected”, he said.
“If new infections go up, it will undermine the efforts of MOH which has succeeded in curbing the spread of COVID-19,” he added.
Translated by Rema Nambiar
Malaysian National News Agency
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