With Hari Raya Aidiladha around the corner, Malaysians and those working as responders and essential workers in the Covid-19 public health emergency are bracing themselves against the threat of yet another surge in cases.
People need to resist trying to beat the system, exploit loopholes, and deceive themselves and others. Celebrating Hari Raya is not more important than keeping yourself and your family safe from Covid-19 infection.
With the excellent progress made through the vaccination programme, this would be a bad time to be complacent and jeopardise all that has been achieved to date, by having family gatherings, disregarding SOPs, and taking advantage of the fact that health officials and law enforcement cannot be present in every home looking at slippers and shoes to enforce adherence.
Whether the epidemic worsens or improves depends on our individual behaviour and cooperation.
The news that congregational prayers such as regular, Friday prayers, and even religious talks are being permitted in several states is alarming. Each of these situations are considered as mass gatherings. They are opportunities for contagion.
The ongoing fourth wave of Malaysia’s Covid-19 epidemic can be traced back to the beginning of Ramadhan, in mid April. Congregational tarawih, regular and Friday prayers were permitted to be held, despite warnings from public health experts that even a reduced number of people would present an unnecessary risk.
The determination that it would be safe to have mosques, suraus and places of worship to be at 70 or 30 per cent of their capacity filled with worshippers, is still not supported by any scientific evidence.
There is no magic number. These are still gatherings.
Despite various public health warnings on the risk of Raya get-togethers, people still gathered at their homes covertly. We saw plenty of evidence of that through the numerous posts on social media.
As a consequence, we have seen generations of transmissions which have firmly embedded themselves into the population, and an almost consistent growth in newly reported cases since then.
The possibility of containment has all but vanished. We are still paying the price for what happened then.
This Hari Raya Aidiladha, let us not repeat the same mistakes.
Azrul Mohd Khalib is Chief Executive of the Galen Centre for Health & Social Policy.
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.