Chinese New Year is just around the corner and it is probably the first time in a long time for families to reunite after a long period of movement control orders. While interstate travel is permitted after achieving a high COVID-19 vaccination rate, Malaysians should be aware that we are still not out of the woods yet especially with the Omicron variant.
Although the number of severe COVID-19 cases and deaths have declined gradually over the past few months, we should not let our guard down. The Ministry of Health has provided several tips on reducing the risk of infection during the Chinese New Year celebration.
Perform COVID-19 self test
Before visiting relatives, it is recommended that you perform a COVID-19 self-test. These rapid test kits (RTK) are widely available and you can find some kits going for less than RM5. You can buy them at pharmacies, convenience stores, and even eCommerce platforms such as Lazada and Shopee.
Whether you’re having a gathering at home or outside, you can request all attendees to get themself tested before meeting up. Those who are tested positive should report and isolate themselves, and follow the current COVID-19 protocols for isolation.
Limit number of people attending gatherings
If you’re having a gathering, you should consider limiting the number of attendees according to the size of the location. As announced by the National Unity Ministry, house visits and family reunion dinners are permitted under the SOP for Chinese New Year celebrations. There’s no mention of the maximum number of people allowed but such gatherings should be limited to close family members only. However, open houses are strictly not allowed.
Follow existing SOP
If you have relatives from another household, it is recommended to wear a face mask and maintain social distancing during the gathering. Obviously, you would need to take off your mask while eating but it is best to put it back on when you’re done with eating and snacking. If any individual is feeling unwell, they should avoid joining gatherings even if they have tested negative with the COVID-19 self-test. In fact, anyone having COVID-19 symptoms despite having a negative RTK result is urged to seek medical treatment or go for an RT-PCR test for confirmation.
Maintain good air circulation
Besides following the SOPs, you should also improve ventilation in your home. You can open windows and doors, or use an air purifier. A premise with good air circulation can help to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection.
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has posted a Chinese New Year PSA video that’s delivered in Mandarin. He reminds everyone to perform an RTK test before meeting up with relatives and friends, to protect your parents and your family. He hopes the year of the Tiger will be the year we get out of the pandemic.
Today, Malaysia has recorded 4,915 new COVID-19 cases after 3 days of reporting over 5,000 new cases daily for 3 straight days. According to the Ministry of Health, 99.2% of today’s COVID-19 cases are Category 1 and 2, where individuals have no or minor symptoms. Only 0.8% of cases are in Category 3, 4 and 5.
In case you missed it, all PPVs throughout Malaysia are now accepting walk-in for COVID-19 vaccine boosters but take note that the vaccination centres will close earlier on 31st January due to the Chinese New Year celebration. The Mega PPVs are open daily except for public holidays. Next week, Malaysia will also begin vaccinating younger children aged 5-11 years old.
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