Interstate travel ban should be for both the people and prominent individuals

INTERSTATE travel is a sore subject, both for the people and the Government.

This is certainly exacerbated when Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah revealed that the Health Ministry recorded 3,179 COVID-19 cases from Jan 1 to March 21 that were caused by interstate travel.

According to the Dr Noor Hisham, the three states with the highest number of imported cases were Kedah with 714 cases, Perak (582) and Negri Sembilan (370).

In a statement last Sunday (March 21), Dr Noor Hisham said clusters triggered by interstate travel have shown an increase since the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic began on Sept 20, 2020.

To clarify, interstate clusters are clusters involving index cases that are infected by COVID-19 from other states and subsequently triggered local infections.

But while this may be the case, the people should not be the only ones to be blamed in this matter. Correct me if I’m wrong, but when the inter-district and interstate travel ban was lifted on December 7 last year, people took the opportunity to cross state borders to visit their loved ones.

My point is, people took the opportunity and travelled across state borders because it was allowed.

The travel ban was back in place on Jan 13 when the number of interstate clusters rose and has remained until this day.

The truth is the blame lies with those who do not comply with the standard operating procedures (SOPs) that were in place, but shouldn’t the blame also lie with those who think that the existing SOPs do not apply to them?

Yes, I am talking about the group of prominent individuals including politicians and ministers who attended a VIP wedding in Negeri Sembilan last week amid the interstate travel ban.

While the police have opened an investigation into the ‘alleged’ breaches of SOPs by these prominent individuals, there is little faith that any action would be taken.

And so, the key takeaway from this scenario is: How is the Government expecting people to comply with the existing SOPs when the leaders themselves are not setting a good example?

All Malaysians – VIPs or otherwise – should take note: the interstate travel ban is in place for a reason, and the blatant disregard for this could easily cost people their lives. – March 24, 2021

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