In the spirit of the season, act together to curb virus

MUSLIMS in Malaysia and all around the world will celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri in the coming week, marking a triumph in overcoming desires and practising restraint during the holy month of Ramadan.

It’s usually a festive time to be shared with family, friends and neighbours. But like Hari Raya in 2020, some of us will once again be far from our families: There will be no annual balik kampung following the government’s decision to ban interstate travel to curb the rising number of Covid-19 cases.

It’s sad news not just for Muslims but for all Malaysians who are accustomed to sharing each other’s festivals with our unique culture of “open house” visits.

Even visits among friends nearby have to be thought out carefully because we must avoid being in a crowd, even a crowd of loved ones if they’re from different households. That means not removing your mask along with your shoes when you visit someone’s home – this virus doesn’t heed race, religion, familial ties or friendships.

There’s simply no choice but to adhere strictly to the SOP if we don’t want to see a healthcare catastrophe in Malaysia on the scale that India is experiencing.

With the number of Covid-19 cases spiralling upwards – we hit 4,498 new cases on Friday – and with health authorities anticipating even higher numbers, our healthcare system is already creaking dangerously.

The Health Ministry said the admission of Covid-19 cases to ICUs in the past two weeks has increased by 44%.

On Thursday, there were 500 cases that required ICU treatment. While some of the 22 hospitals nationwide recorded 70% usage of their ICUs, there are others with 90% occupancy.

It got to the stage that some non-Covid-19 government hospitals were forced to treat those with the virus in their ICUs because the designated hospitals couldn’t cope with the jump in case numbers.

We must not allow Malaysia to become the next India with people searching desperately for oxygen tanks for their sick loved ones struggling to breathe.

We have no choice but to observe the movement control order seriously and diligently, not just to safeguard ourselves but our loved ones and the nation too.

We know the SOP by now and we can argue over details like whether we can go jogging or dine in a restaurant but the basic thing is to avoid crowds and, if you must leave home, wear a mask (wear properly lah, covering the nose and mouth, please don’t push it under your chin!).

It might seem all doom and gloom but all is not lost. The season’s mood and spirit of love can be shared in so many other ways – via social media, video calls and, yes, even Zoom and Google Meet sessions that can gather all the far flung family members and friends together (they’re not just for work!).

After last year’s experience even Atuk and Nenek know how to use the technology. And thanks to e-hailing and deliveries, your favourite aunty can have her special rendang sent to you!

The first day of Syawal must be celebrated but in this difficult time, let’s celebrate moderately while making sure we all act together to bring case numbers down quickly.

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri, everyone!

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