If you could choose your loved ones' safety, or potentially spread a new strain of Covid-19 to this same group of people, which would you pick? For those still in a dilemma of choosing between being a Covid-19 rule flouter or keeping your loved ones safe, choose the latter.
With the world still trudging through the Covid-19 pandemic, we will be celebrating this year's Raya quite differently once again. Around the world, Muslims in every country have to limit their visits and abide by respective Covid-19 guidelines. Those in Malaysia have been placed under a nationwide Movement Control Order (MCO), banning them from going house-visiting this upcoming Raya, while Indonesia banned mudik, which is the Aidilfitri tradition of travelling out of the city back home to kampungs. In Singapore, those celebrating Hari Raya are limited to two gatherings a day, with each household only being able to accept 5 distinct visitors daily. But thankfully, it's still a better situation than last year, and we can prolong Raya by staggering our house visits throughout the month ?
Wherever you are, here are three things you should note before choosing to flout the Covid-19 rules. And if you know someone who's thinking about flouting the Covid-19 guidelines, let them know! ?
The Rise In Covid-19 Variants
The Covid-19 task force in Singapore said that the global COVID-19 situation had worsened, with new variants and cases spreading from South Asia to Southeast Asia. In Singapore, 29 local cases have been found to be infected with these variants. Of these new variants, the World Health Organization (WHO) are keeping a close eye on the ones that pose a risk to public health. These include the variants of interest and variants of concern, which are being observed due to their transmissibility and severity of the disease.
On 4 May (Tuesday), the Ministry of Health said that seven cases in three local clusters have one of the Indian variants - the B16172, a sub-strain of the B1617 which is one of seven variants of interest. The sub-strains share the same characteristic mutations. The UK, South African and Brazilian variants have also been listed as variants of concern by WHO. These are variants that are more contagious or cause more severe diseases compared to variants of interest. As of 3 May (Monday), the total number of local cases tied to these three variants is 19, while the total number of local cases tied to all coronavirus variants is 29.
According to infectious disease experts, these new variants have "an increased capacity to bind", which means that now, the "viruses are better at infecting and precautions such as safe distancing, masks and hand hygiene have to be done very well."
Going Back To Lockdown?
As more Covid-19 clusters emerge in Singapore recently - including one at Tan Tock Seng Hospital with 43 cases, Singapore has returned to Phase Two since exiting this phase on 28 Dec last year. Singapore's economy shrank by 12.6 per cent last year due to circuit breaker measures amid a global economic downturn. The circuit breaker that lasted from April 7 to June 1 saw the closure of schools, retail malls and arts and recreation attractions, causing a major revenue loss to these industries, especially the aviation and tourism sector. People lost their jobs, had to be displaced and it was a tough time for everyone. Our community celebrated Raya at home and could only have virtual visits to 'see' our loved ones. And as Malaysia returns to an MCO 'lockdown' this 12 May just in time for Raya, Singapore could be next.
In order to curb the spread of the virus and prevent a second circuit breaker, measures need to be promptly tightened. Singapore's Covid-19 task force said that "our community case numbers can go either way over the next few weeks" and that "it only takes one lapse or one irresponsible action for an infection to happen, and that infection may end up being a super-spreader event in the community.”
For Your Loved Ones
Even though it may be hard not to accept more visitors once our household has reached the cap of 5 in a day, we'll have other days to celebrate Raya together safely! A tip is to communicate with your family members whom you're visiting with and the people that you will be visiting - you could even plan a Raya Visiting schedule! With fewer people at home, we can have more meaningful conversations too. Let's cut back on our social interactions and activities, and stay at home as much as possible. Everyone can play their part in curbing the spread of Covid-19 and spend more quality time together ?
Although the tightening of Covid-19 regulations is bound to pose inconveniences to Raya celebrations this year, our families can stay safe at home and still feel all the love and Raya spirit - together! Remember to mask up, keep a safe distance and limit your interactions with others. Share this with your friends and family to let them know why they should have a safe Raya this year too! ?