Health experts have advised caution for those who are waiting anxiously for a run or walk outdoors after 7 weeks of being cooped indoors.
Under the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO), the government has lifted sanctions on outdoor exercise, allowing people to resume their daily routines with the condition that they adhere to physical distancing guidelines and keep watch on their children.
However, government has banned contact sports, indoor activities, swimming and group sports activity that involve more than 10 people.
Parks in the city have reopened, while others, such as the Shah Alam National Botanical Garden, remain closed until the order is fully lifted or when infection rates stabilise.
So, is it safe for outdoor activities now? Let’s hear out from the health experts:
Virologist Dr Sazaly Abu Bakar – Universiti Malaya’s Tropical Infectious Diseases Research and Education Centre director
Outdoor activities should be postponed, even in Covid-19 green zones, such activities should resume only after a zone had been marked green for six weeks or more.
“This is because we don’t know what the transmission rates are in zones outside the areas placed under the Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO), as we are doing targeted testing instead of mass testing.
“Asymptomatic or presymptomatic people may be sharing the parks or jogging lanes with others,” he said, echoing expert opinions from other countries on lockdown on the risks of exercising outdoors during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dr Sazaly said there were also other complications, for instance, social distancing for those on the move had to be more than 2m.
“Those who want to exercise must choose a time when no one is at the park and that can be difficult if you don’t live in a gated community.
“There will be people with children and dogs, as well as those who stop to rest when exercising. Wearing face masks while running is not convenient for breathing.
As the virus was a new discovery, there wasn’t insufficient data on whether it could be transmitted through bodily fluids other than nasal and oral secretions. The virus, through micro-droplets, had high chances of surviving in gyms and on equipment.
Thus, cooler temperatures and equipment in parks could be conducive for the coronavirus’ prolonged survival. If you really need to run outside, do so when there is no one around and make sure you don’t touch any surface.
“Do not go to gyms, toilets at parks or public facilities because confined spaces and the lack of ventilation are ideal for the virus to thrive.”
Virologist Dr Chee Hui Yee
Chance of contracting the virus from gyms is higher than parks. Thus, she said gyms should only be reopen if there is strict measures, such as screening, social distancing and cyclic cleaning, and only for the zones that had been declared virus-free for at least 28 days.
This measure, she said, was enforced in Hong Kong and Macau. Those who wanted to jog must go to less crowded areas so that the chances of contracting the virus were minimal.
Runners also must practise social distancing and avoid those who were coughing and sneezing. Those who wanted to walk in parks should wear face masks. Especially vulnerable groups, such as asthmatics and the elderly, could exercise in places where there were fewer people.
“Covid-19 is not going to disappear. It’s just like the seasonal flu and it will be here until we find a vaccine or develop natural immunity. Until then, community empowerment is key in defeating the virus.
“People need to feel that they are part of the fight and they, too, can make choices, instead of it being all doom and gloom. Somehow, Adults and children need exercise for their physical and mental health as long as no contact sports”
Source : NST