After staying at home for a long time during the MCO, many Malaysians are looking forward to going back to their daily lives. However, Dr. Jemilah has said that all of us will need to adapt to the new normal and we will have to live alongside Covid-19 until a vaccine is found.
Although we can all argue that staying at home might be the best thing to do, we still need to get back to our workplaces and children need to go back to their schools at some point in time. Business Insider spoke to Dr. Susan Hassig, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans about the risk levels of everyday activities.
Although different activities have different risk levels, wearing a mask and maintaining social distance can decrease one’s chances of getting the virus.
HIGH RISK: Gathering with friends and family
This activity is okay if you have been living with this group for quite a while but if you haven’t then it’s quite risky as you have no idea where the person has been to or who they have come into contact with. It is also highly unlikely that anyone who attends one of these social gatherings will wear a mask and social distance.
HIGH RISK: Bars
Dr. Susan said that bars should not be reopened as it is a place which involves a lot of mingling around and it’s not like anyone can wear a mask while drinking.
HIGH RISK: Religious functions
Places of religion are often packed with people with more advanced age and for some religions, there might be rituals that involve handshakes, any physical contact or eating. However, the risks can be lowered by social distancing, wearing a mask and also from abstaining from the aforementioned types of rituals.
HIGH RISK: Cinemas & sports events
Cinemas and sports events are high risk as they involve a large number of spectators. Imagine a group of people waiting outside the cinema hall or outside the stadium so that they are able to get in. When they finally do, all of them will be in an enclosed space.
MEDIUM TO HIGH RISK: Gyms
Dr Susan says that to lower the risk of infection at gyms, gym-goers should wear a mask whenever possible and all the equipment should be sanitised BEFORE and AFTER an individual uses it. In addition to that, strict social distancing should be implemented.
MEDIUM RISK: Indoor dining
The doctor says that indoor dining might be a little risky considering the air ventilation and that the restaurant personnel had been in the same enclosed space for hours. To reduce the risks, one can wear their masks until their food arrives and restaurants should be wary of high-touch items such as menus.
MEDIUM RISK: Hair and nail salons
In this industry, wearing masks is essential as it helps to block any particles when someone speaks, coughs or sneeze. It also helps to prevent someone from touching their faces. Employees in this industry should always keep their hands clean.
MEDIUM RISK: Dates and small gatherings
This is the same with large friends and family gatherings. For dates/ one-on-one meetings, what also comes into play is geography. As an example, if the person lives in a place where there is a high concentration of cases (e.g. Pedas) then, of course, there is a high risk but if they live in a place with a low number of cases (e.g. anywhere in Perlis) then the risks are definitely lower.
LOW TO MEDIUM RISK: Beaches
Social distancing on beaches can help to reduce the risks but as they are open areas, it might be hard to control crowds.
LOW RISK: Outdoor dining
Dining outdoors would be great if there is social distancing between tables. The ventilation outside will be better as well, however, diners should be careful of high-touch items such as menus and condiments.
LOW RISK: Outdoor activities
Doing outdoor activities solo or within the group of people you have been living with is fine. You would also need to keep social distancing from the other people at the park/ hiking trail. Meeting up with your buddies outside of your household will need more precautions.
LOW RISK: Retail shopping
Shopping can be low risk if you keep your distance and wear a mask. Fitting rooms should be closed, however, if they are open, any unbought articles of clothing should be quarantined or sanitised first. Dr. Susan says the place with the highest risk of infection in a store is at the cashier where social interactions happen.
LOW RISK: Touching mail or groceries
The doctor says there is a low risk of catching the virus from touching your mail or groceries. She said that she would not personally wipe and sanitise all her groceries but if you’re worried then you can keep non-decayable things in the bag for a few days before using them. However, she warns everyone to be extremely cautious with things like doorknobs and elevator buttons.
There we have it, the most important thing anyone can do now is to stay at home if you can and if you are not able to then you should definitely adhere to the SOPs.
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