KUALA LUMPUR, April 5 — Making video calls to children from the Ramadan bazaar is much better than taking them there which will only put them at risk of Covid-19 infection.

Universiti Putra Malaysia Public Health specialist (Epidemiology and Biostatics), Assoc Prof Dr Malina Osman said despite understanding the needs of children, especially those who had just been trained to fast and usually wanting a variety of food, children’s health was much more important although the country had entered the transition to the endemic phase.

She said currently, most of the children aged five to 11 years, had not or were not fully vaccinated while those under five years old were still not allowed to be vaccinated.

“To prevent children from being exposed to Covid-19 infection, parents who take their children to the Ramadan bazaars can make them wait in the car and use their smartphones to make video calls for the children to choose their own iftar (breaking of fast) dishes.

“Alternatively, the children can wait at home for the video call to choose their breaking of fast food or place an order through Foodpanda and so on,” she said when contacted by Bernama here today.

This was in response to Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali’s suggestion yesterday that parents should not bring young children to the Ramadan bazaar to prevent them from being exposed to Covid-19 infection even though the country has entered the transition to the endemic phase.

Dr Malina said the transition to the endemic phase did not mean parents could take the standard operating procedures lightly as the virus was still there and preventive measures should be taken.

“Experts have said that infections among children have shown an increase since early this year. So, it’s better to keep our children from the risk areas, whether they are vaccinated or not,” she said.

Meanwhile, Sharifah Fatimah AlZahrah Syed Hussien, senior lecturer of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Abdulhamid Abusulayman Kulliyyah of Revelation and Human Sciences, International Islamic University Malaysia, said that based on expert recommendations, it was very important to consider the safety and health of children, especially those who had not been vaccinated.

“Maybe there are parents who are used to bringing their children to the bazaar as a reward, but that is not the only way as we can make a ‘star chart’ where at the end of Ramadan, we give them a reward for succeeding in fasting,” she said.

Sharifah Fatimah said the other safest alternative was to prepare the breaking-of-fast food at home with the children without having to go to the Ramadan bazaar.

According to the CovidNow website, a total of 1,351,441 children between the ages of five and 11 years or 38 per cent of the population have received at least one dose of vaccine through the Covid-19 National Immunisation Programme for Children (PICKids) up to yesterday. — Bernama