KUALA LUMPUR: There may be a global viral outbreak but that has not stopped the regular stream of visitors to the popular Thean Hou Temple here over Chinese New Year.
As concerns over the coronavirus continue to mount, the temple’s management, the Selangor and Federal Territory Hainan Association, has prepared 100,000 masks to be distributed to the public and tourists for free, as well as installed hand sanitiser dispensers at 12 spots.
Association president Dr CY Tang said the management wanted to create awareness and help prevent the spread of the virus, especially as the festival was a peak period for visitors.
A total of 800 bottles containing 50ml of hand sanitiser gel, he told reporters, had been placed in locations such as the temple shrine, canteen, corridors and the office for the marriage registry.
Despite widespread concerns over the coronavirus, Tang said visitor arrivals had not slowed down, with the numbers expected to match last year’s figures of about 150,000 during the celebration.
Yesterday, foreign tourists were seen flocking to Thean Hou Temple, although many have taken precautionary measures by donning face masks.
Roland Cunningham, who is visiting Malaysia for the first time with his wife, was seen sporting a mask at the temple.
While he said he had concerns about the virus, it had been an enjoyable trip so far.
“(The outbreak) is still in its early days. My family expressed concern when we were visiting Asia but they just told us to be careful.
“It hasn’t affected our trip. We just use hand sanitisers, wear our face masks, keep away from crowds and we have been opting to use taxis instead of public transportation, ” said the 64-year-old retiree from Britain.
Elle Swan, who is from the United States, said she was in Thailand when the news about the virus broke.
“I was already in Thailand for three weeks and suddenly, I saw more people having these face masks on.
“My friend and I wanted to go and see the Chinese New Year celebrations but we decided not to in the end. I was contemplating whether I should cancel my trip to Malaysia (after that) but I just decided to stay in Asia, ” she said.
She said she was taking vitamins to stay healthy and tried to remain positive and not indulge in fear and panic.
“There was a moment when the virus outbreak hit the news, it was on CNN, and I got a lot of texts from home and they asked me to come home. But I’ve already planned this trip and I believe in the power of the mind, ” she added.
An IT specialist from Belarus, who only wants to be known as Kate, said she and her family would be taking precautionary measures when visiting tourist spots in Malaysia.
“We don’t use public transportation and have been getting around using taxis or by walking. We will probably not go to the markets here, ” she said.
She added that while they would be careful about the virus, there had been too much panic and sensation surrounding the matter.
“The masks are all sold out in the stores. It was also a scary sight at the airport because everyone was wearing masks.
“My daughter and I have been coughing and sneezing only slightly but people would look at us and get alarmed.”