Health Ministry urges all mass gatherings be postponed immediately

KUALA LUMPUR: All mass gatherings should be postponed to minimise the spread of Covid-19, says the Health Ministry.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said those experiencing respiratory infection symptoms were advised not to attend programmes that involved crowded places, including religious activities.

"Those with symptoms are advised to adopt social distancing by standing at least 1m away from another individual," he said when asked what advice the ministry would give after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the disease a pandemic on Wednesday (March 11).

The WHO said Italy and Iran were now on the frontline of the disease and other countries would soon join them.

A pandemic, according to the WHO, is when there is a sudden increase in the number of cases all over the world, usually affecting a large number of people.

As of Thursday (March 12) 11.30am, there were 126,064 confirmed Covid-19 cases with 4,630 deaths reported, according to CononaTracker. A total of 68,211 patients have recovered.

The Health Ministry had on Wednesday (March 11) revealed that some 10,000 people participated in a religious gathering from Feb 27 to March 1 at the Sri Petaling mosque in Kuala Lumpur, where a Bruneian man infected with Covid-19 was present.

Dr Hisham twitted on Thursday morning urging all who had attended the gathering to cooperate with health officials to ensure Covid-19 did not continue to spread. He urged them to contact the Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre (CPRC) hotline at 03-8881 0200 or the respective district health departments as soon as possible.

He also advised the public not to travel overseas, especially to countries that were affected by Covid-19.

"Malaysians who have respiratory infection symptoms should not visit other places in Malaysia during school holidays," he added.

Meanwhile, he urged people to adopt preventive measures and good hygiene.

He said the ministry was calling for "solidarity and togetherness" at all levels of society in battling Covid-19.

"Everyone has a role to play, including the public, as this is not only the responsibility of the Health Ministry alone. It is a shared responsibility," he said.

On the part of the ministry, Dr Noor Hisham said that it has combined its approach for containment to detect, isolate and treat positive patients with mitigation efforts such as getting all our resources, facilities, devices, intensive care units and hospital beds ready.

"The mitigation efforts are to minimise the impact, particularly to the vulnerable population such as the elderly and those with co-morbidity.

"It also means optimising resources and enhancing the health system to support the patients," he said.

Recently, in an engagement meeting with the media, the ministry has said that the Hospital Sungai Buloh was dedicated for Covid-19 cases in view of it moving towards pandemic level and the fourth and fifth floors had been repurposed into wards for such patients, while the third floor would handle Covid-19 cases needing intensive care.

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