After almost two months of effort to flatten the peak of COVID-19 infection in Malaysia, the nation’s Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin revealed on 10 May that Hari Raya visits will be allowed on the first day of Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
According to the New Straits Times, the visits will be limited to close family members of not more than 20 people. With the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) being extended to 9 June, the stay-at-home measures will affect the people who observe Hari Raya Aidilfitri that will occur on the final week of May.
This news update has confused many Malaysians, as they questioned the point of making an effort to stay home for almost two months.
Therefore, on 12 May, the Academy of Medicine of Malaysia (AMM) released a statement regarding this particular new policy.
The AMM is comprised of 11 colleges and 15 chapters, and it is also a registered body representing medical specialists in Malaysia.
The Academy was supportive of the extension of CMCO as a step to lower the numbers of new COVID-19 infections while the nation’s economy could open gradually.
However, the statement noted that the AMM was in “deep disappointment” that “small” Hari Raya gatherings of not more than 20 people would still be allowed. It went on to explain that this move will potentially “undo all the good work” to control the spread of the coronavirus in Malaysia.
According to the statement, the Academy stated that it would only take one infected person – symptomatic or not – to infect his or her family members unknowingly. The AMM also proposed that the face-to-face Raya celebrations should only be carried out within family members who reside in the same household.
Other than warning about the impact the new Raya visiting measure could bring, the AMM requested the Malaysian government to review this policy.
“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 unknowingly to family members.
We propose that face-to-face Hari Raya celebrations should be only with family members residing in the same house. 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.”
Since Malaysia has managed to flatten the COVID-19 curve at the end of April, the Academy called for continued vigilance for the maintenance of green zones, as well as containment of red zones.
Seeing how new clusters are still emerging as of date, the AMM warned that non-adherence to precautionary measures will escalate the situation.
In the statement, the Academy expressed that an excessive relaxation of CMCO restrictions will “potentially reverse hard-won victories” achieved through the sacrifices of the frontline workers and citizens.