Coronavirus: Malaysian medical specialists call for review of decision to allow gatherings during Hari Raya celebration

Muslims pray before breaking fast at Independence Square in Kuala Lumpur on May 13, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A group of Malaysian medical specialists have expressed concern over the government's decision to allow small gatherings under the conditional movement control order (MCO) during the Hari Raya Aidilfitri season.

While welcoming the extension of the MCO until June 9 to curb the spread of Covid-19, the Academy of Medicine of Malaysia (AMM) said it was "deeply disappointed" that small Hari Raya parties were still allowed.

"This could undo all the good work to control the Covid-19 pandemic thus far in our country.

"It has been proven that it only takes one infected person - especially asymptomatic or false-negative ones from the Covid-19 testing currently used - to spread the disease," it said in a statement.

AMM is a registered body representing medical specialists in Malaysia from 11 colleges and 15 chapters.

Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob on Wednesday said visiting are allowed during Hari Raya as well as the Pesta Kaamatan and Hari Gawai festivals as long as it is confined to no more than 20 people.

In appealing to the government to review the relaxation on its policy for gatherings, AMM proposed that face-to-face Hari Raya celebrations should only be among family members residing in the same house.

"We must remember the immense difficulties and massive resources needed to do contact tracing," said AMM, adding that new Covid-19 clusters were still surfacing, and the lack of vigilance would likely escalate the situation.

"An excessive relaxation of conditional MCO restrictions will potentially reverse hard-won victories achieved through the sacrifices of the rakyat and frontliners alike.

"Covid-19 remains an active threat and Malaysians need to work together to prevent its spread."

It noted that new coronavirus clusters are still appearing and any non-adherence to precautions will escalate the situation.

"We need to stay vigilant and not let our guard down. Current habits of good hand hygiene, maintaining physical distancing, avoiding mass gatherings and wearing of face masks in public must still be carried out," it added.

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