By Stephen Ng
WITH the unabated COVID-19 pandemic hitting India now, I am appealing to ALL MALAYSIANS to cooperate and work towards a common goal – to eradicate the virus that has killed over three million lives worldwide.
Using the hashtag #KitaJagaKita, if we think that the Government has failed to put COVID-19 under control, we have to take our own initiatives to overcome the pandemic.
According to statistics published by Worldometer.info at the time of writing (May 1), the number of COVID-19 cases worldwide is on the upward trend.
A total lockdown may be necessary to be imposed in red alert zones or state for at least three weeks, during which everyone should voluntarily adhere strictly to the ‘stay-at-home’ rule.
If the virus cannot survive more than 14 days, then an additional one week may be just sufficient to ensure that we do not allow it to replicate itself. If we fail to adhere to the strict standard operating procedures (SOPs) during this period, we may forever have to face from one movement control order to another.
Wuhan and a number of cities in Hubei were immediately placed on a strict lockdown for 76 days (from Jan 23 to April 8, 2020) but today China has only 16 new on May 1.
To date, the country has only a total of 90,671 cases (or 63 cases per million population) compared to Malaysia’s total of 411,594 cases (or 12,495 cases per million of population).
If we suspect that China may be suppressing the numbers, we see a similar outcome in Australia and New Zealand after strict lockdown. Australia reported only 12 cases yesterday, while countries like New Zealand, Vietnam, Monaco and Bermuda have zero cases.
Meanwhile, India is currently facing shortages of medical facilities and supply of oxygen to cope with the rising number of cases. A friend of mine from India has just informed me today that a number of her friends have lost, not one but several family members to the pandemic within just the past one week. In her own family, three family members were tested positive, too.
Thailand has already prepared more makeshift hospital beds using cardboards in anticipation of the next spike in the number of cases, while in Malaysia, we all know that both government and private hospitals are already packed with COVID-19 cases.
This is not surprising as we have also seen a spike in the number of cases in Malaysia, with the highest so far at 3,788 cases on April 30. Although the number has reduced 2,881 cases yesterday, it does not mean anything except that the trend is upwards.
If we continue to live in our “dreamland”, the reality of the pandemic may strike us suddenly. We may wake up to the nightmares that our Indian brothers and sisters are experiencing now.
While I try to caution everyone, I am met with scepticism. Some over-optimistic people like to think that everything is fine. For all my good intentions, I have suddenly become to them a prophet of doom.
Not realising that the virus can affect anyone, if tomorrow I were tested positive myself, I wonder whether the same people would jeer at me, “See, he’s now COVID-19 positive!”
I know people who went for the swab test, and for one or two nights, until the results are known, they suddenly become very worried. But, when the result turned negative, they are back to business as usual.
Instead of being united in our combat as fellow Malaysians against the virus, we have become too complacent with our own lifestyles, refusing to comply with some strict standard operating procedures (SOPs).
We are in a hurry to open our economy, go back to physical meetings and classes, and when a few cases are detected, people are more interested in their personal agenda than working together to fight this common enemy.
When I told friends that the temperature check at public places can only detect 20% of COVID-19 cases, while 80% of the cases are asymptomatic, I am faced with ridicule and cynicism for trying to highlight this. All I can say is that the figure is not plucked from the air; it came from a reliable source.
Some of the biggest culprits in our fight against COVID-19 are, in fact, the politicians themselves. They flout the SOPs, without even the slightest remorse. The Inspector-General of Police, Abdul Hamid Bador’s final presser has put Putrajaya on the spotlight that they do not even believe in the SOPs that they impose on the general population.
What we continue to see in the social media is how blatantly they behave, as though they are immune to the virus. The fines imposed on them fail to deter them from flouting the SOPs; hence, I am not surprised to see the number of negative comments alleging that the Government is practicing double standards.
Let me repeat this: The Minister of Multimedia & Communications Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah has just been added to the latest statistics of COVID-19 positive cases. Not until death stares at us in the face, we will not take heed to the potency of the virus. Ministers or their deputies makes no difference where the virus is concerned.
This is why we need to focus our attention to educate the public, rather than to impose all kinds of hefty fines by amending the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988.
I cannot end this article without saying that it has become ridiculous when at least two members of the cabinet can then tell us that they knew nothing about the amendment to the Act, at a time when we should be more united to fight the coronavirus! – May 2, 2o21
Stephen Ng is an ordinary Malaysian who has contributed his thoughts on a number of issues to stimulate the country’s thinking public.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.