Restrict Hari Raya do’s to those in same household, medical group tells govt

Malaysians are bracing for a subdued Raya celebration as the conditional movement control order to contain the spread of Covid-19 continues. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: The Academy of Medicine of Malaysia (AMM) today urged the government not to permit even small gatherings for Hari Raya celebrations, saying any face-to-face interaction should be limited to family members living in the same house.

AMM, which represents medical specialists in the country, said allowing “small” Hari Raya parties of less than 20 people could undo all efforts so far to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It has been proven that it only takes an infected person to spread the disease unknowingly to family members,” it said in a statement.

“We must remember the immense difficulties and massive resources needed to do contact tracing. We would like to request the government to review this policy.”

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, in announcing a one-month extension of the conditional movement control order (CMCO) on Sunday, said Hari Raya parties of not more than 20 people would still be allowed despite the general ban on gatherings and close contact activities.

This was criticised by the Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy, with chief executive Azrul Mohd Khalib saying it would not be conducive to social distancing and other containment measures such as the wearing of face masks.

Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah meanwhile suggested that hosts stagger visits to reduce the risk of infection.

Adding that the issue was not the number of people allowed to gather, he said it was more important for everyone to follow the standard operating procedures laid out by the health ministry.

“The number is relative. It depends on the house. If the home is small, then they need to look into making staggered appointments or visits from family members,” he said at his daily briefing yesterday.

AMM said it welcomed the extension of the CMCO, warning that constant vigilance was still needed.

“An excessive relaxation of CMCO restrictions could reverse the hard-won victories achieved through the sacrifices of the people and frontliners alike.

“Covid-19 remains an active threat and Malaysians need to work together to maintain precautions to prevent its spread.”

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