KUALA LUMPUR: Today, Wednesday which is equivalent to 30 Ramadan 1442 Hijrah signifies the end of the holy month after Muslims have performed one month of fasting and will be celebrating Hari Raya Aidilfitri tomorrow (Thursday).

The day of victory is traditionally celebrated with the family and relatives in the village, which will become memories and longings like the years before.

The announcement of Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on Monday (May 10) that Malaysia would once again come under Movement Control Order (MCO) throughout the country starting today until June 7 to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic after cases were rising sharply and therefore the Aidilfitri has to be celebrated under the new normal.

The high daily COVID-19 cases at around 4,000 cases with 38,499 active cases and 1,722 deaths reported as at May 11, 2021, is the reason why cross state and district movements are banned and even house to house visits are also not allowed.

The biggest concern is the occurrence of a raya cluster with new COVID-19 variants feared to be even more infectious led to the difficult, firm and unpopular action to be taken by the government.

The fact is Malaysia is now facing a continuation of the third wave of COVID-19 which can spark off a national crisis.

Before this, senior citizens and the elderly who have critical underlying health issues or non-communicable diseases are more at risk if infected with COVID-19 but with the latest variants, even the youths are infected with even more serious symptoms leading to some being warded at Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah was quoted as saying that since early this year to May 7 2021, the highest COVID-19 transmission recorded involving those aged 20 to 29 was 1,531 cases and 1,452 cases involved those aged 30 to 39.

"This is the working age group. Specialists at Sungai Buloh Hospital confirmed the new variant infection is affecting younger patients and in some cases, treatment using steroid is not effective on them," he said.

The situation is very worrying and it would not be a surprise if the daily COVID-19 cases exceed 5,000 before the end of May as projected by the Ministry of Health (MOH) before this if compliance with the standard operating procedure (SOP) is taken lightly by the people due to pandemic fatigue, being stubborn and so on.

To combat the pandemic, all parties have a role to play to jointly defeat the disease by adopting the 3C which is avoiding crowded place, confined space and close conversation and to practise the 3W :(practise Wash, Wear and Warn).

To ensure its effectiveness, all need to stay united in the community and not to solely depend on MOH, as the government or the authorities without the involvement of the people could not stamp out the pandemic in the country.As such, it is very important for the people to understand, be aware and stand up to break the transmission chain and now is not the time to point fingers to find who is at fault for the spike in cases.

It is undeniable that the people are emotional now and in the social media, various allegations have been made including attempts to attack the MOH social media site which have resulted in the comment section closed.

Commenting on the issue, SEGi University psychology expert, Prof Datin Dr Mariani Md Nor said it is normal for a person to be angry but the community needs to be rational on why the government has to take the approach.

"My views may not be accepted by netizens but we need to look at the reasons the decision was made and why the regulation and SOP was not consistent.

"They (government) have their reasons which we may not know and every decision was not arbitrarily made but based on data obtained. I understand why the people are upset...because it is an alternative to calming our anger," she told Bernama.

However, the anger should not forget the nature of empathy, especially the sacrifices of the frontliners of the country who have been working hard to treat and maintain national security.

The fact is, Raya can still be celebrated with the available technology and the previous Raya experience has proven that technology has helped us to strengthen the ties between families. Undoubtedly, patience is difficult but between life and the pleasures of the feast, what is our priority?

Of course, we don't want the fun of the festival to end up in the ward because the risk of being infected remains if the SOP is taken lightly. Be patient for a more meaningful raya next year. Selamat Hari Raya Maaf Zahir Batin from us.