Kuala Lumpur, 1 April 2020 — Considering where we are in the MCO and the fact that we haven’t seen or properly projected the peak of the outbreak in Malaysia, it would be premature at this point to make any preparation or expectation that Ramadan bazaars and congregational tarawih prayers will be held this year.
In three weeks time, the Ramadan month begins.
With the number of pending Covid-19 cases expected to still be high, thousands involved in the Sri Petaling tabligh gathering still unaccounted for, and community spread in the country not fully mapped out, it would be unwise to expect the return to normal behaviours, regardless of how well such activities are managed.
We should take the approach of “prepare for the worst, hope for the best” as has been emphasised repeatedly by the Director General of Health, and we should err on the side of caution and safety.
Until at least the end of this month and possibly even the first half of May, any activity that involves large numbers of people in close contact, where social distancing cannot reliably be carried out, should not be held.
It would be tragic if the decision to hold food bazaars and congregational tarawih prayers during the Ramadan month would result in more Covid-19 infections and loss of life.
It would mean that the months of sacrifice and efforts of the women and men of the Ministry of Health and all our frontliners to contain the outbreak would be in vain.
Who would be held accountable if that happens?
Even if the Federal Government is not forced to extend the MCO again, the end of April would be too soon to assume that the possibility of infection has been totally eliminated. It could be many weeks later before we can go back to what was normal.
The Terengganu, Melaka and Negeri Sembilan state governments have already made the bold and hard but right decision to not hold Ramadan bazaars this year to protect people in those states and prevent the possible spread of Covid-19. Hopefully, the other state governments and the federal government could also follow suit.
— END —