Malaysians masking up for haze and Covid-19

Whether it’s for haze or Covid-19, Malaysians are continuing to mask up to protect themselves and their loved ones.

Benjamin Lee and Lo Tern Chern

Benjamin Lee and Lo Tern Chern

the star


Family outing: Lau (centre) and her daughters checking out a booth at New World Park in George Town. — CHAN BOON KAI/The Star

April 25, 2023

PETALING JAYA – Whether it’s for haze or Covid-19, Malaysians are continuing to mask up to protect themselves and their loved ones.

Design engineer Lee Jiunn Aun said masking up had become a norm for him and his family since the start of the pandemic.

“Especially concerned about the haze, my parents are adamant that my sister and I mask up when we leave the house.

“It’s like killing two birds with one stone; masks help prevent us from catching and spreading Covid-19 while also keeping us healthy in case that haze returns,” said the 26-year-old.

Audit assistant Azhnol Amriel, 25, had the same opinion, noting that masks are probably the most affordable and effective way for Malaysians to protect themselves.

“I’d rather be slightly inconvenienced by wearing a mask and spending some money buying them instead of getting severely sick from possible haze or Covid-19 infection,” he said.

Earlier in April, winds from the north blew down some of the smoke from the forest fires and burning farmland in Myanmar and Laos, causing thick haze to envelop some states near Malaysia’s northern border and raising concern that a nationwide haze could return.

Covid-19 cases also began to spike in Malaysia and its neighbouring countries in early April as a new SARS-CoV-2 viral variant, named Arcturus, along with other existing variants spread rapidly across the region.

Coey Chung, 28, said donning a face mask and maintaining hygiene had become part of her daily routine.

“I hope companies will consider implementing more work-from-home measures again, in case the situation worsens,” Chung, who works as a project manager, added.

A 64-year-old retiree, who only wanted to be known as Betty, said after hearing news of possible haze and a new Covid-19 wave, she began wearing masks more frequently whenever she went out.

“I used to only occasionally mask up depending on where I was going, but now I wear one basically whenever I step out of the house,” she said.

“My age puts me at the most risk from both Covid-19 and haze so I’m not taking any chances.”

Another retiree Lee Peng Song, 71, had the same sentiment but he was also worried that the haze would get worse due to frequent open burning around his town of Sungai Petani in Kedah.

“My family and I have basically been masking up all the time now, even before the news of haze or new Covid-19 variants began circulating around,” he said.

In GEORGE TOWN, many people had face masks on while sightseeing or visiting tourist spots during the Hari Raya holiday.

Besides using face masks as a protection from the haze, people are also continuing to take precautions against Covid-19, although it has now been a year since the country moved into the endemic phase.

Lau Wai Ling, 48, who brought both her daughters to an exhibition at the New World Park, were among those there who had face masks on all the time.

“Weekends are when we go out for meals and shopping, and we are taking all necessary precautions against Covid-19 and the ongoing haze.

“My 18-year-old girl will be sitting for her A-Level exams soon and her younger sister is still schooling.

“With new variants being reported, we just want to ensure we are as safe as possible without restricting our movements,” said the IT consultant.

Tourists within the heritage enclave were also spotted with face masks on, although some had them pulled down to the chin due to the scorching heat.

Teacher Salina Abu Hassan, 43, and her husband Abdul Rahman Mohamad, 57, from Kuala Lumpur, decided to keep their face masks on while visiting the various attractions.

“Being a teacher, it is my responsibility to ensure I am safe from Covid-19, which is still in circulation.

“In schools, pupils are still wearing face masks for the same reason, to minimise the risk of spreading the virus.

“While on holiday, we should continue wearing masks as a precaution,” she said.

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