By YS Chan
THANKS to the introduction of movement control order (MCO) in March 2020 which was later replaced by the conditional MCO (CMCO) in May – and further relaxed with the recovery MCO (RMCO) from June – daily COVID-19 cases averaged only 300 per day in the first 11 months.
But following the Sabah state election in September, daily cases continued to rise and CMCO had to be reintroduced in Sabah, Kuala Lumpur and Selangor in November.
However, Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob later announced that inter-district and interstate travel restrictions for CMCO areas will be lifted from Dec 7.
Many people took advantage and travelled for year-end holidays and more would have done so but were held back by severe flooding, with some marooned by floodwaters, in many parts of the country. By throwing caution to the wind to makan angin soon took its toll and a record high of 2,525 new cases were recorded on Dec 31.
As if this was not alarming enough, we went through another rude shock for the first three weeks of this year when 59,537 cases were recorded in just 21 days, more than the total recorded in the first 10 months. On January 13, MCO was reimposed for five states and three federal territories.
Also on that day, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah was reported to have said, “During these two weeks, we will be monitoring data to see whether we can reduce the number of cases. In my opinion, we probably won’t be able to lower the number of cases. But we will be able to prevent the cases from increasing further. If the MCO is implemented for four weeks, we may be able to reduce the cases to below 1,000, and then 500”.
January ended with a total of 101,949 cases or an average of 3,289 daily, which were bright down slightly in February with an average of 3,064 cases per day. In March, the pandemic was brought under control as daily cases averaged only 1,443 for the month.
But in April, we got laxed, particularly from the second half of the month when Ramadan bazaars were allowed to operate in addition to night markets. While daily cases in the first half were averaging only 1,499 per day, they shot up to 2,716 a day in the second half.
By May, we were in deep trouble as COVID-19 infections hit an average of 5,246 cases per day and still rising in June, with an average of 6,368 daily cases in the first half of the month. This was despite the country went under nationwide lockdown for 14 days from June 1, which has since been extended for another two weeks.
The highest number of COVID-19 infections detected was on May 28 with 8,290 cases when 125,32 tests were conducted. For the first six days of June, daily cases averaged a shockingly high 7,410 per day but from June 7 to 13, the average came down to 5,813. This was because the number of tests during this week averaged only 90,182 per day.
So, it is anybody’s guess whether things are getting better or worse. In any case, we are far worse from where we started. The results seem to indicate that we have been taking one step forward followed by two steps backward. – June 15, 2021
YS Chan is Asean Tourism Master Trainer for travel agencies, master trainer for Travel & Tours Enhancement Course and Mesra Malaysia. 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.