Chingay parade cancelled on Johor govt’s advice on Covid-19

Religious ceremonies in conjunction with Chingay on Feb 13 and Feb 15 will continue in Johor, with sick devotees told to stay away. (Bernama pic)

JOHOR BAHRU: The organisers of the 2020 Chingay Parade Festival here, supposed to be held on Friday, have called off the event after receiving advice from the Johor government.

Johor Bahru Tiong Hua Federation (JBTHF) said it had agreed to cancel the parade after considering the views of its affiliates as well as due to public interest.

The menteri besar’s office, in a statement, said the decision was made based on the Johor state Health Department’s (JKNJ) risk assessment of the Covid-19 coronavirus infection as well as the difficulty in performing health screenings on all the visitors.

According to the statement, the measure was also taken after considering the fact that security forces and the organisers could not determine the exact number of visitors expected to attend the parade.

“The state government considers this decision as a precautionary measure following fears of a large-scale infection spread if the procession continues,” the statement said.

However, it said religious ceremonies in conjunction with Chingay on Feb 13 (tomorrow) and Feb 15 (Saturday) would continue, but the organisers will need to provide the names and addresses of the participants involved to JKNJ as a precautionary measure.

JBTHF said those who wish to go to the temple for the religious ceremony must ensure they are healthy.

“If they are not, they can watch the ceremony live on our social website,” said the federation’s president Ho Sow Tong during a press conference here today.

So far, 18 people have been diagnosed with Covid-19 in Malaysia. Of these, 12 are Chinese citizens and six Malaysians. Of the 18 cases, three have fully recovered.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad said scientists and medical experts have not reached a consensus whether the virus can spread through the air.

He said to date, most of the medical experts stated that liquid droplets were the mode of transmission in regards to human-to-human infection.

He said when infected persons cough or sneeze (without covering their mouth and nose), respiratory secretions from the infected person would spread on surfaces such as tables.

“When uninfected individuals touch the exposed surface and wipe their hand on body cavities such as their nose, that’s when the transmission of the virus occurs.

“Imagine if it’s airborne … but until today, it is not confirmed (that Covid-19 is an airborne disease),” he said.

The new virus, first detected in Wuhan, China, in December last year, has killed 1,017 people in the republic and one in the Philippines. There were 43,155 positive cases globally as at 4.30pm today.

Dzulkefly said sharing food, beverages or equipment that might have been exposed to the secretions could risk infection to others.

Thus, Dzulkefly said those with symptoms (cough and cold) should wear face masks to prevent the spread of secretions when they talk, cough or sneeze.

Recently, the media reported an expert in China was of the opinion that the virus could spread through the air while a group of international medical experts said diarrhoea was the second way of transmission.

“Unlike the Ebola virus that can cause sudden death, this is a regular coronavirus which causes pneumonia or symptoms related to the respiratory infection.

“Coronavirus patients who died had other diseases such as heart disease and kidney failure, not because the coronavirus is vicious or horrific,” he said.

Dzulkefly also reminded those who are at high risk of the virus infection, such as senior citizens aged 65 and above, children with low immunity and respiratory-related patients, to minimise their presence at hospitals if they have no essential business.

He said they need to avoid crowded places, particularly hospitals, to prevent Hospital Acquired Infections (HAI).

Dzukefly also said his ministry was in a state of preparedness to face any possibility in handling the disease.

In Singapore, the health ministry has confirmed and verified three additional cases of Covid-19 infection, bringing the tally to 50.

A statement said all of the three cases had no recent travel history to China.

The ministry’s deputy director medical services (health services group), Asso Prof Kenneth Mak, said two of the new positive cases involved Singapore citizens who both had gone to work at the Grace Assembly of God (Tanglin) and Grace Assembly of God (Bukit Batok) churches.

The 50th case involved a Singapore citizen who works at DBS Asia Central.

It was reported earlier today that about 300 DBS employees vacated their office at Marina Bay Financial Centre after an employee was confirmed to be infected with the disease.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said six more cases were discharged from hospital today thus bringing the total of fully recovered patients to 15.

Another 35 confirmed cases are still in hospital, most of whom are stable or improving.

“But eight are in critical condition in the intensive care unit.”

So far, five cases are linked to The Life Church and Missions Singapore at Paya Lebar Road; nine cases to the cluster associated with Chinese health products shop Yong Thai Hang; three linked to the private business meeting at Grand Hyatt Singapore; two to the Seletar Aerospace Heights construction site; and another two linked to the Grace Assembly of God.