In an interview with the CodeBlue Galencentre news portal, Professor Dr Nirmala Bhoo Pathy, said limiting visitors to 20 family members on the first day of Hari Raya would not prevent Covid-19 transmission during home visitations.
“In my opinion, the magic number of 20 does not mean anything. Twenty people gathering in a big mansion is very different compared to 20 people gathering in a 1,000-square feet apartment. We Malaysians gather during festivals for ‘makan-makan’,”
“Firstly, it is impossible to keep our face masks on while eating, and secondly, we will end up walking around the food table touching all the utensils used to serve food.
“In short, celebrating Hari Raya outside the immediate family circle is potentially catastrophic to the elderlies in the family and also other vulnerable family members,” she added.
In response to the authorities’ decisions, Dr Nirmala said that most health care professionals would not agree with the government’s judgment to reopen places of worship; however, she also pointed out that people cannot be held in their homes forever.
“If you ask us, the health care professionals, majority will say ‘no’ to keeping places of worship open during a pandemic.”
“I personally would have preferred all places of worship to stay closed (until) about two weeks after Hari Raya, when they can open up in stages. After all, praying at home is always an option in almost all religions, especially during times of disaster.
“Even in Saudi Arabia, the highest religious body had urged Muslims worldwide to pray at home during Ramadan in view of the pandemic,” Dr Nirmala said.