PUTRAJAYA, May 22 — Muslims celebrating Aidilfitri on Sunday should adhere to the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) during the festive season, which includes social distancing to prevent a sudden increase in COVID-19 positive cases after two weeks.
Health director-general, Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the Ministry of Health (MOH) has this concern this coming festive season as data from other nations showed a sudden hike in cases after their citizens travelled back to their hometowns.
“During the festive season, they return to their hometowns, and then after a week or two, there is an increase in the number of cases.
“Therefore, Malaysians should follow the SOPs, either try to reduce your visits or avoid it altogether, practise social distancing as well as wash hands frequently even though we are among family members because if we abide by (the SOPs) we can keep positive cases to double digits,” he said.
Speaking at the daily COVID-19 media conference here today, he said if they can achieve a good level of SOP compliance, positive cases could be reduced to only a single digit.
“However, if we disregard the SOPs, cases will quickly increase. So, it all depends on our compliance,” he said.
He said before the Movement Control Order (MCO) was enforced, the R-nought (R0), which is the term used to measure the contagiousness of infectious disease, for Malaysia was 3.55, and has now dropped to 0.3.
“What is important is complying to the SOPs including keeping social distance, washing hands and not visiting each other or graves,” he added.
“These are the steps that we can take and follow to reduce infections after Hari Raya,” he said.
Dr Noor Hisham also urged Malaysians not to travel outside of their states.
“Stop inter-state travel, (which) means you are not allowed to go out from (your) respective states, which is implemented to reduce Malaysians from going back to (their) kampung (hometowns).
“The virus can be brought back to (the) kampung, there is one case (where the virus was transmitted) from Ampang to Kuala Krai, so with that incident, we have been monitoring the situation and make sure we can reduce the impact of (the) virus outbreak,” he said.
When asked about his own Hari Raya celebration this year, Dr Noor Hisham said it would be the same as the previous years.
“Every year I celebrate the first day of Hari Raya at the hospitals with our frontliners. This year will be no different. After performing the Aidilfitri prayer at home I will head to the hospitals to celebrate Hari Raya with the frontliners,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dr Noor Hisham said the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) implemented by the government is cost-effective besides preventing a sudden rise in cases.
“MCO is the best and most effective model to reduce cases, as for CMCO, even though it is less effective, at least there is no escalation of cases.
“We can utilise the CMCO method which is low-cost compared to the implementation of MCO,” he said.