No to Ramadan bazaars even with modification, say medical experts

  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 01 Apr 2020

KUALA LUMPUR: A third wave of Covid-19 infections may emerge if Ramadan bazaars are allowed because adequate social distancing is almost impossible to achieve at these popular bazaars, says medical experts.

"The Academy of Medicine Malaysia (AMM) strongly disagrees with any plan to hold Ramadan bazaars this year, given the ongoing threat of Covid-19," said master Professor Dr Rosmawati Mohamed in a statement on Wednesday (April 1) signed by all 11 AMM colleges.

The academy is a registered body representing all medical specialists in Malaysia, with 11 colleges of various medical specialties.

Dr Rosmawati said the academy was of the opinion that adequate social distancing would be near-impossible to achieve given the popularity and the congestion that often seen at Ramadan bazaars.

"Close contact will inevitably occur in parking areas, en-route and between customers and vendors.

"The premature easing of social distancing may potentially lead to a third wave of infections," she said.

Dr Rosmawati added that the daily rate of new cases is currently still in the triple digits with more than 120 per day, indicating that there was an ongoing community spread with unknown chains of transmission.

"A third wave will be a setback to any previous hard-earned gains since the enforcement of the movement control order (MCO) on March 18. We, therefore, strongly urge the minister to ensure that business does not continue as usual, ” she said.

The AMN issued its statement after Federal Territories Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa said the annual bazaars might be modified and human traffic managed to prevent congestion.

On Tuesday (March 31), Annuar said his ministry and the Kuala Lumpur City Hall were contemplating whether to approve any large-scale Ramadan bazaars after the MCO ends on April 14.

Following the announcement, many Malaysian social media users expressed their disagreement for the annual bazaars, fearing a potential third wave of Covid-19 cases.

Subsequently, Annuar said the ministry might consider using a revised format to include good hygiene practices and reduced human contact such as by pre-packing food.

In response to this, Dr Rosmawati suggested alternatives such as an online Ramadan bazaar with delivery services as this would reduce the risk of infection and minimise the economic impact on small traders.

She added that many sacrifices had been made and must continue to be made this year.

"The war against Covid-19 is far from over, and we will need to continue persevering in order to enjoy many more Ramadans to come. Losing this war is not an option," she added.

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