Jemilah’s Raya plea: Learn from virus trends in other countries

The prime minister’s health adviser Jemilah Mahmood says it’s now up to the public to take Covid-19 measures seriously. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: The special adviser to the prime minister on public health has advised Malaysians to take a lesson from Covid-19 trends in other countries, saying they must not lower their guard, particularly with the Hari Raya season approaching.

Dr Jemilah Mahmood noted that South Korea and Germany had been recording new spikes in cases and 16 people in Bahrain had tested positive for the virus after a communal breaking of the fast.

She warned that a slacking in compliance with safety measures could see an undoing of the progress the nation had made.

“The government has done everything any government might do and even more,” Jemilah told FMT. “It’s really up to the public now, but not everyone is realising this.

“Governments make decisions based on evidence and data, which are fluid. When situations change, of course one has to adapt and adjust.”

She noted that international health bodies had had to change their views with the emergence of new evidence and cited the examples of the use of masks and antibody testing.

“It’s not about making U-turns, but being sensitive to the uncertainties that pandemics bring,” she said.

Jemilah urged Malaysians to consider avoiding travelling during the Hari Raya holidays and suggested that Muslims celebrate the occasion in their homes.

“In this way, we can keep everyone safe, especially the older family members. Surely we don’t want to return to a lockdown situation, especially during Hari Raya.”

She complained that some people did not seem to realise that the duration of the ongoing conditional movement control order was dependent on their compliance with the set procedures.

She said government decisions were made after weighing risks, adding that Putrajaya had to constantly strike a balance between lives and livelihoods.

“The health ministry has announced that the reproduction number, or R nought value, for Covid-19 in Malaysia is 0.3 and that’s a huge success.

“We need to maintain or lower this number. The only way to do so is to practise safe distancing, to mask up and to ensure hand and respiratory hygiene at all times.”

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