8 April 2020
We refer to the media article ‘Lifting of MCO will not mean the Covid-19 pandemic is over’ in the Malay Mail on 6 April 2020.
We agree with the authors that the current Movement Control Order must continue beyond the current Phase 2 period ending on 14 April 2020. For public health reasons, the ban on non-essential interstate travel must continue leading up to and beyond Hari Raya Aidil Fitri, which is expected to fall on 24 May 2020. Other celebrations such as Hari Gawai and Harvest Festival will also follow soon after this period.
Whilst it is understandable that many wish to travel to spend time with their loved ones during Ramadhan and Aidil Fitri, we need to remember that events of this year are unprecedented.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made it necessary for social distancing to be the new norm for at least a period of time until the situation is well under control.
The risks of spreading the virus particularly to the elderly, in the case of a ‘balik kampung’ exodus are very real. Risks associated with crowding at R & R stations and hence failure of social distancing by travellers during this exodus and their subsequent return to urban areas will also need to be taken into consideration.
Responsible behaviour in adhering to social distancing measures is required of everyone until a vaccine is made available. For this year at least, be it Ramadhan, Aidil Fitri or even Haj gatherings - there is a need for control, monitoring and possible banning of these gatherings.
Given the need to prolong MCO, we urge the Government to strengthen plans to ease the socio-economic repercussions of the pandemic. We are cognisant that this pandemic has and will continue to have major negative impacts on all aspects of the Malaysian economy which is why robust whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches are needed.
A premature withdrawal or excessive relaxation of MCO restrictions will potentially undo all the good that has been achieved from staying home these past four weeks. The war against COVID-19 is far from over - many sacrifices have and will continue to be made this year. Let us show the world that Malaysians can exercise restraint as a nation and bring the war to a favourable close.
We, the under-signed:
Academy of Medicine of Malaysia (Professor Dr Rosmawati Mohamed, Master)
College of Anaesthesiologists (Dato Dr Jahizah Hassan, President)
College of Dental Specialists (Professor Dato’ Dr Lian Chin Boon, President)
College of Emergency Physicians (Dr Ridzuan Dato’ Mohd Isa, President)
College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (Dr Michael Samy, President)
College of Ophthalmologists (Dr Nur Fariza Ngah, President)
College of Paediatrics (Professor Dr Thong Meow Keong, President)
College of Pathologists (Professor Dr Cheong Soon Keng, President)
College of Physicians (Dr Letchuman Ramanathan, President)
College of Public Health Medicine (Dato’ Indera Dr Sha’ari Ngadiman, President)
College of Radiology (Dr Amir Fuad Hussain, President)
College of Surgeons (Professor Dr April Camilla Roslani, President)
(The Academy of Medicine of Malaysia, embracing 11 Colleges and 15 Chapters, is a registered body representing all the medical specialists in Malaysia).