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5:21pm 05/05/2022
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Good reasons to believe a spike in new infections after Raya is unlikely
By:Sin Chew Daily

Finally, we have made some real progress in battling the virus the scientific way, not by blindly locking down our cities and towns.

The Labor Day and Hari Raya super long weekend started from the evening of April 29. If you applied for two more days of leave, then you would have a total of nine days off until May 8. Just a little too long, seriously!

Prior to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, such a long holiday should have been spent vacationing overseas. However, in post-pandemic era (the virus is still very much alive today, as a matter of fact), countries across the world have imposed very different entry requirements, some warranting at least three doses of the vaccine, some discounting China’s Sinovac, others requiring a negative pre-departure PCR test, while certain countries still insist a rapid test upon arrival, which could mean spending a certain number of days at a quarantine hotel before being sent back on a positive test result.

Just think about it: traveling out of the country could be such a hassle, and in the event you get infected half way through your holiday, the entire trip would become very much simplified: arriving at a foreign airport, spending several days at a quarantine hotel, and then catching the flight home. At least you can still tell people you have traveled out of the country!

As such, a more viable alternative is, of course, cuti-cuti Malaysia!

On Wednesday, the headline of Sin Chew Daily‘s picture-heavy front cover story went: Revenge travel as Malaysians go on holidaying spree during super long weekend!

Indeed, given the inconveniences and unpredictabilities of oversea travel, the lifting of antivirus restrictions from May 1, including masks off at outdoor places, has sent Malaysians packing for short domestic trips all around the country.

From north to south: taking the funicular train up Penang Hill, jostling with the crowds along Ipoh’s Concubine Lane, KL’s Petaling Street and Melaka’s Jonker Walk. Of course there are a whole lot more: Genting Highlands, major malls, great restaurants, open house events hosted by our Malay compatriots, plus the never-ending traffic along our highways and freeways, the crowds are simply phenomenal!

Having been confined to our own homes for a little over two years, it is now time to liberate ourselves!

Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said before the opening up that the pandemic was well under control in the country and we no longer believe in another lockdown now.

So, a big opening-up across all economic sectors is almost inevitable, although it will invariably be accompanied by some risks.

The government has gently reminded the public to still put on their masks at indoor venues as well as crowded outdoor spaces, because with a third booster dose already received and keeping safe social distances almost too hard to achieve in view of the humongous crowds at popular destinations, face mask will serve as our last line of defense against the virus.

During the past few days of holiday, we could see from pictures on newspapers or through a personal visit to some of the most popular malls in town, that almost everyone had their masks on, even outdoors, thanks to the civic education imparted on Malaysians over the past two years by the government’s strict enforcement of antivirus SOPs, and we hope this good habit will continue to be kept for as long as the virus is still around, at least to minimize the risk of infection.

Will the week-long holiday set off yet another bout of explosive virus outbreak? We believe it won’t, as most Malaysians have been vaccinated and boosted, and have their masks constantly put on once they step out of their homes.

By right there should be a spike in the number of new infections, but there’s no reason for an explosion of cases unless the protection from booster doses begins to wear off after a while, or another new virus variant suddenly pops up.

Health director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah said on Monday that there could be a spike in new cases after Raya, although an overwhelming majority of the cases (99.5%) would be asymptomatic or lightly symptomatic, based on the health ministry’s observation over the past two months.

Malaysia boasts one of the highest vaccination rates in the world with over 99% of adults and 92% of youths fully vaccinated and 70% boosted. This explains why we have managed to keep the serious illness and mortality rates very low. And this is also why the government has so much confidence in deregulating all economic sectors.

Finally, we have made some real progress in battling the virus the scientific way, not by blindly locking down our cities and towns.

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