Comments on hygiene awareness & cleanliness

Moaz from TRANSIT wrote this letter about hygiene awareness and cleanliness on public transport.

What are public transport operators doing?

THE rapid spread of the A (H1N1) flu in Malaysia has caught everyone’s attention.

The virus is not airborne but is spread by droplets and can be picked up by touching contaminated surfaces.

The Health Ministry is urging the public to take precautionary steps such as taking your temperature regularly, avoiding crowded areas and staying at home if you are sick.

But the most important and effective precautionary step is simple: just wash your hands frequently with soap.

Sanitising gels or wipes can also be used but nothing beats a good scrubbing with soap and water.

Since a large number of people (more than 500,000) travel daily around the Klang Valley using public transport, one wonders what precautions bus and train operators are taking to help prevent the transmission of the A (H1N1) virus.

People using public transport are often in close proximity of less than 1.5m (within the transmission zone) and they touch a variety of surfaces (ticket vending machines, bars, seats and doors) during their daily travels.

Of course, people should continue using public transport but they should take precautions like using a handkerchief when touching surfaces, washing their hands frequently with soap etc.

Unfortunately, I have seen and heard nothing from the public transport operators about A (H1N1) prevention measures.

Nor have I seen an increased effort to keep public transport stations and hubs and vehicles extra clean. Nor have there been any attempts to culture bacteria taken from various surfaces — a great project for university or secondary school students and a good reminder of the value of hygiene.

The irony is that I have seen some of the public transport operators arranging fund-raising campaigns for earthquake and flood victims and giving away hampers for Raya but I have yet to hear of anything about campaigns to educate the public on good hygiene.

It makes good business sense that RapidKL, KTMB and other operators be pro-active because if people start to get worried about the A (H1N1) flu, they will avoid the crowded trains and buses, and these operators will end up losing money needlessly.

MOAZ YUSUF AHMAD
Petaling Jaya

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