Over the weekend, Malaysians took to Twitter to criticise the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, and Culture (MOTAC) for carrying on with a travel fair despite the spike of COVID-19 cases in the country
According to Malay Mail, the Malaysia Travel Fair 2020, organised by the ministry, was held at Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) in Kuala Lumpur from 13 March to 15 March.
The event went on as usual even though the Ministry of Health issued a notice on 12 March to encourage all mass gatherings to be postponed.
The travel fair is said to be a move to save the local tourism industry from the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak
Astro Awani reported Tourism Malaysia director-general Datuk Musa Yusof as saying that the event was a part of the economic stimulus package to revitalise the tourism industry.
150 industry players were present at the fair, which targeted a crowd of 100,000 visitors and RM220 million in sales over the three-day event.
On its Facebook page, the Malaysia Travel Fair 2020 assured that every visitor was subjected to temperature screenings and the handrails of the escalators were sanitised every 30 minutes.
Despite the event organiser's best efforts, Malaysian netizens were not pleased
"Can you not do something so stupid? People are staying at home not going out for mass gatherings," a Twitter user criticised.
"More like the Malaysia Coronavirus Fair," a netizen replied to a tweet by MOTAC, which has now been taken down.
Another Twitter user also joined in the conversation, saying there were children enjoying free treats given out at the exhibition.
"Malaysia Travel Fair today at PWTC. Seriously, what are they thinking? Hotels even giving discounts, kids eat free promo. Life is more important than all this freebie (sic)," wrote the person.
"Will the Malaysia Travel Fair 2020 be the origin of another COVID-19 cluster? 100,000 people over 4/5 days?" said the netizen, who is believed to be referring to the recent ijtimak tabligh gathering at Sri Petaling Jamek Mosque.
The religious gathering was attended by over 16,000 attendees from 27 February to 1 March. At the time of writing, there are a total of 243 confirmed COVID-19 cases linked to the event.
Meanwhile, the public has been urged by the government to remain calm and stop panic-buying due to the COVID-19 outbreak: