Medical Experts: No to Ramadan Bazaar, Social Distancing Near Impossible

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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 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 specialities.

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 statement came in response to the news report quoting Federal Territories Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa saying that the management of Ramadan bazaars in the Federal Territories would be modified from this year to prevent congestion at the stalls.

FMT

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.

“Many sacrifices have been and 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.”

Meanwhile, Azrul Mohd Khalib, CEO of the Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy, said it would be tragic if the bazaar activities were to result in an increase of infections and the loss of more lives.

“Who would be held accountable then?” he said.

The first of Ramadan is expected to fall on April 23. The movement control order (MCO), which came into force on March 18, ends on April 14.

Azrul said there was a lack of wisdom in assuming that people would be safe from infection after the expiry of the MCO.

“It could be many weeks later before we can go back to what was normal,” he said.