PETALING JAYA: Doctors have slammed the government’s move to temporarily ban all sports and recreational activities in areas under the movement control order (MCO) from tomorrow.
Dr Steven Chow, president of the Federation of Private Medical Practitioners’ Association Malaysia (FPMPAM), said the decision “makes no sense” while Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii urged Putrajaya to reconsider the move.
Chow asked the government for evidence that exercising in compliance with Covid-19 SOPs in an open area was responsible for the spread of Covid-19.
“It is irrational to blindly pursue a ‘duduk di rumah’ (sit at home) approach at this stage. This is detrimental to the physical and mental health of the people. Outdoor family-centered activities should be encouraged,” he told FMT.
Yii said fitness activities and non-contact sports could boost people’s immune systems and reduce the risks of Covid-19 infections if performed in adherence to SOPs.
He told FMT that Putrajaya should be basing its decisions on science and data.
“The science clearly points to a lower risk of infection in open ventilated areas and that exercise is beneficial for an overall healthy lifestyle.
“It’s ironic that the public is allowed to walk in shopping malls or even Ramadan bazaars in Kuala Lumpur, but they’re not allowed to walk in an open park.”
He stressed that sports and exercises must be done in compliance with public health advice, such as avoiding crowded areas and performing them individually or in a small group.
“Practice personal hygiene before and after exercising and try to avoid touching exercise equipment at public recreational parks.
“When running or jogging, always ensure you do not run too close to another person. Also, head home straight after that and take a bath,” he advised.
In a statement earlier today, the youth and sports ministry said all sports and recreational activities in commercial premises or facilities as well as in public and open areas were to be suspended.
“The consideration and decision were made based on the risk assessment by the health ministry and also the challenges as well as current developments, in line with the desire to curb the spread of Covid-19, especially within communities,” it said.
However, sports and recreational premises or facilities can still carry out certain operations limited to management and maintenance only; quarantine-based centralised training programmes by the National Sports Council and camp-based training by state sports councils.
Meanwhile, infectious diseases expert Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman also urged the government to review the decision, pointing out in a Twitter post that the risk of contracting Covid-19 outdoors was about 18 times lower than indoors.
“Please let the rakyat continue to jog, cycle or do any other outdoor sports for the sake of our physical and mental health,” said Adeeba, who was recently inducted into the World Health Organization’s Science Council.