Friday, May 15, 2009

Much Ado Over the No Mask Directive in SJK (C) Tiang Dua

Malaysians are a funny lot that sometime defies logic. Bacteria meningitis is a serious disease that in severe cases causes neurological deficit and death. Hence, it is to be expected that people treat it seriously as it is not like a common flu. The spread is through droplet from an infected person in close contact.

To quarantine the Road Transport Academy Centre in Malacca is a correct move. SJK (C) Tiang Dua is only situated next to the Academy. Therefore, one can expect that the parents would be very anxious about their children’s safety. While it is unlikely that the bacteria meningitis droplet could be carried for a distance of 300 metres, one cannot blame the parents to overreact. Hence, as a natural reflex action, they want their children to wear mask as a precaution. 

I see no reason why the Education Department is such a sticker of rules in not allowing school children to wear masks. In a situation like this, often the lack of information and understanding by the parents of the true nature of the spread of the disease, I would have expected that the Education Department use its common sense to allow the children to wear masks. I cannot understand why the children wearing masks will cause panic among the general public. The Education Department obviously underestimates the IQ of the general public. It is often the lack of accurate and rapid dissemination of information that causes the general public to panic when there is a disease outbreak.

A few days ago, a VIP from the MOH after visiting the hospital made an important pronouncement that the disease is now contained and there is nothing to be worried. The following 2 days, we read of report that more cases of bacteria meningitis were admitted to the hospital. The VIP obviously made a political statement to allay the fear among the public without understanding the nature of the spread of bacteria meningitis. When there are no new cases of bacteria meningitis for 2 weeks, then only can one safely say that the disease is now contained and under control. Otherwise, any announcement would be premature and not based on medical evidence. Often it is such pronouncement that causes that public to be confused and not to trust statements made by VIPs. Hence, do not blame the parents of the SJK (C) Tiang Dua not to trust assurance given by officials from the Department of Education that the children are safe without masks. Hence, the best alternative is not to send their children to schools. 

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