We refer to the media article ‘FT minister says won’t cancel Ramadan bazaars, but will better manage human traffic’ in the Malay Mail on March 31, 2020.
The Academy of Medicine Malaysia, comprising 11 Colleges of various medical specialties, strongly disagree with any plan to hold Ramadan bazaars this year given the ongoing threat of Covid-19.
The Minister was reported to have stated that the bazaars will be modified to prevent congestion at the stalls. However it is our opinion that adequate social distancing will be near-impossible to achieve given the popularity and congestion of Ramadan bazaars. Close contact will inevitably occur in parking areas, en-route and between customers and vendors.
The premature easing of social distancing may potentially lead to a third wave of infections. The daily rate of new cases is currently still in triple digits (>120 per day), indicating 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 on 18th of March 2020.
We therefore strongly urge the Minister to ensure that ‘business does not continue as usual’. Instead alternatives such as an online Ramadan bazaar with delivery services should be promoted in order to reduce the risk of infections and to minimize the economic impact on small traders.
Many sacrifices have 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.
We, the under-signed:
Academy of Medicine of Malaysia
College of Anaesthesiologists
College of Dental Specialists
College of Emergency Physicians
College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
College of Ophthalmologists
College of Paediatrics
College of Pathologists
College of Physicians
College of Public Health Medicine
College of Radiology
College of Surgeons
(The Academy of Medicine of Malaysia, embracing 11 Colleges and 15 Chapters, is a registered body representing all the medical specialists in Malaysia).