THE first case of COVID-19 in the country was detected on Jan 25 last year and it appears almost certain that the total number from then and now will reach one million this coming Sunday.
While it took 18 months to reach the first million cases, it may only take another three months to clock the second million unless the current momentum is interrupted by effective intervention.
Tragically, there were several occasions when the authorities became laxed, which may have contributed to this issue.
The first was lifting of interstate travel restrictions last December and many people visited and stayed in the homes of relatives and friends, which resulted in a record high infections on Dec 31.
Following this, the movement control order (MCO) had to be reimposed, but COVID-19 cases went up to an average of 3,289 daily in January compared to only 330 per day last year. The average dropped slightly to 3,064 daily in February.
We did very well after that when the average dropped to 1,443 daily in March and 1,449 daily in the first half of April.
But the average went up to 2,716 daily in the second half because Ramadan bazaars were allowed to operate in addition to night markets. That was a big mistake.
The average for the whole month of April was 2,107 daily and the number soared to 5,279 daily in May and from thereon, there was no turning back.
The authorities were toying with the idea of allowing Hari Raya Aidilfitri visits but banned such gatherings at the eleventh hour.
From June 1, a nationwide full lockdown was introduced, but daily average rose to 5,987 per day in June.
However, what was truly shocking were the numbers in July that averaged 9,679 daily for the first 22 days, with 13,034 on July 22, making an accumulative total of 964,918.
Now, if only we could turn back time to March 31 when total number of COVID-19 cases stood at 345,500.
Repeating the 44,748 cases registered in March in subsequent months, it will take up to the second half of June 2022 to reach one million cases.
By not replicating the success achieved in March, we are reaching the million mark 11 months early.
But what is more important now are the actions to be taken from here. Dishing out more of the same will surely add another million COVID-19 cases by end of October.
After the National Recovery Plan (NRP) was unveiled, Malaysians were optimistic that Phase 1 under full MCO will be over by end of June so that the nation can move to Phase 2 or conditional MCO in July or August.
Phase 3 or recovery MCO is targeted for September or October and the country will be back to normal in Phase 4 by November or December.
But instead of heading towards this direction, we have gone the exact opposite as if a National Relapsing Plan was used as a substitute.
Sloganeering is nothing more than a ‘syiok sendiri’ exercise and could even backfire.
After the NRP was introduced and Phase 1 was used, many people seem to have forgotten that we are still under MCO or PKP, as these initials are ingrained in their minds.
As such, many of them went about their daily activities oblivious to the risks around them and not taking adequate measures, such as practising physical distancing and are fond of chatting with others unnecessarily without wearing masks or even wearing them properly.
Hence, it is no surprise that infections went up, but it is a cruel way of reaching herd immunity without getting vaccinated.
The huge number of COVID-19 cases is catastrophic to our country that no nation can afford, as most businesses and livelihoods would not be able to survive. – July 23, 2021.
YS Chan is Asean Tourism Master Trainer for travel agencies, master trainer for Travel & Tours Enhancement Course and Mesra Malaysia (both programmes under Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture). He is also a tourism and transport industry consultant and writer.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.