Prevention is better than cure. Bring forward school holidays to prevent SARS from spreading to school children and teachers

Press Statement
by Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew

(Petaling Jaya, Monday): The SARS outbreak has claimed more than 200 lives all over the world to-date. The onslaught seems to be getting more serious in Hong Kong, China and Singapore. It appears to us that the highly infectious virus is still very much active, and certainly has yet to reach its peak. And the medical fraternity has yet to find the right medicine to treat SARS victims.

It is therefore sensible and necessary for Malaysia to step up prevention against SARS before it gets out of hand since we are so close to these regions in terms of the frequency of mutual visits and travel. To a certain extent, the lifting of ban on visits and travel to these regions has made Malaysians even more vulnerable.

In view of the fact that young children are not spared from SARS, and they are all so close in contact with each other in the school environment, we urge the Cabinet to seriously consider to close all the schools by bringing forward the school holidays which start from May 29 to 8 June 2003. This would help to reduce the risk of SARS infection among the young children.

The Education Ministry can readjust the school holidays to regain the schooling hours accordingly. The remaining three school holidays for the year 2003 are scheduled to fall from 6 Sept to 14 Sept; 23 Oct to 27 Oct; 28 Nov to 4 Jan 2004.

The talk of closing down the schools unless and until 25% of the school children were infected by SARS (by the deputy minister of education Datuk Aziz Shamsuddin about a week ago) was nothing but a sick joke.


* Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew, DAP national publicity secretary and Selangor state secretary