Rising Covid-19 cases prompts Malaysians to scale down Chinese New Year celebrations

Families are choosing to limit social visits, avoid large gatherings and get takeaways for the all-important reunion dinner. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysian families are opting to scale down their Chinese New Year celebrations in light of the rampant spread of Covid-19 in the country.

This year's festivities will be simple affairs as they limit social visits, avoid large gatherings and get takeaways for the all-important reunion dinner.

Ms Christine Koh, 37, from Melaka, said that unlike previous years, she would limit her visits to close family members.

"Virtual visits are not workable for the older generation, so I may consider delivering gifts or hampers as an alternative," said the mother of three.

Ms Koh, who is the vice-president of her primary school alumni, said she and her committee were planning a virtual get-together with online interactive games this year.

"Although we have to minimise physical contact with our loved ones and associates, it doesn't mean we cannot cherish each other's presence this festive season," she added.

Businessman Chong Ming Huei, 40, who had been in Singapore before the movement curbs began last March, has decided not to return for the festive celebration.

"I have been video-calling my mum and dad back home every day since I came here. So, on the first day of Chinese New Year, I will do the same before meeting up with my cousins here," he said.

As for his parents in Melaka, Mr Chong said it will be a closed-door Chinese New Year celebration, as they have made it a point to inform relatives, friends and associates to refrain from visiting.

"My parents are in their 70s and not taking any chances," he added.

Ms Michelle Tan, 28, said she and her family would not be returning to Penang for the occasion.

"We do not want to be carrying the virus back to our elderly relatives in Penang. They are in their 80s, so it isn't wise to do so... But we will still have a reunion dinner with our close family members in Kuala Lumpur.

"I will be at home playing games with my family. It's best to stay safe now with the hospital capacity under pressure," said the executive.

Consultant Lee YS, 56, said he will be opting for takeaway food from restaurants for his reunion dinner.

"We will only have close family members dining at home, especially since my mother is elderly and at high risk. We will most likely not invite other relatives. We don't mind if a few people drop by, but for us to go visiting with my mother, I think it's better not to do that, " he said.

Major Chinese groups in the country have also implored those celebrating the Chinese New Year next month to restrict their visits and gatherings, in view of the four-figure number of daily Covid-19 infections.

Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia (Huazong) president Goh Tian Chuan said it is a must for all to prioritise lives and public health.

"We must be vigilant and responsible while celebrating, especially if we have children and the elderly at home. So, for all who are marking the Lunar New Year, we must follow the SOP (standard operating procedure) to flatten the curve again," he said .

Huazong is an umbrella body consisting of 15 Chinese Assembly Halls from each state and federal territory.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.