By Muhammad Basir Roslan
KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) – The COVID-19 crisis is among the hot issues discussed by the public today.
The pandemic has led to pandemonium, so to speak, in view of its devastating impact on the world economy with even nations like the United States and the United Kingdom not immune to its deadly effects.
In Malaysia, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin issued the Movement Control Order (MCO) on March 18 to address the spread of COVID-19. Mass movements and gatherings were prohibited, Malaysians were not allowed to travel abroad and foreigners were barred from entering the country. Schools were all ordered to close and so were public and private institutions of higher learning.
When daily new COVID-19 infections began to reduce, the government enforced the Conditional MCO on May 4 to lift restrictions on certain social and business activities. Currently, the Recovery MCO is in force until Aug 31.
While Malaysia’s health authorities have been handling the COVID-19 situation well from day one, some members of the public have been busy displaying their irresponsible attitude. Not only did they defy the government’s orders not to leave their homes unless it was absolutely necessary, but they also ridiculed public servants who were doing their duty.
Even with the police and army mobilised to hold roadblocks on major highways to prevent interstate travel during the MCO and CMCO periods, there were still many people out there who seemed to disregard the no-travel order.
Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, for example, revealed that on June 2 alone, police recorded 267,373 vehicles travelling interstate. The statistics are certainly not something to be proud of.
There was also a viral video of a group of adults who gathered in an open area to enjoy a “goat’s head” feast during the MCO.
It was also reported that a woman driver had yelled and taunted the policemen who were conducting a roadblock at Persiaran Surian, Petaling Jaya, on March 31. She was later arrested and taken to the Damansara police station for further action.
Another case involved a medical doctor who pleaded not guilty in the Penang Magistrate's Court on two charges of obstructing a civil servant and violating the MCO's rules by jogging outside.
To me, all these are thoughtless acts that undermine the efforts of the government which is trying its best to prevent the dangerous coronavirus from spreading.
Imagine if everyone thought and acted that way, that is, ignoring the directive to stay at home and organising mass gatherings. What would have happened if just one of them was diagnosed with COVID-19?
Nevertheless, many of us have learned some valuable lessons from the COVID-19 crisis. First and foremost, we are getting used to the new normal culture.
Prior to the crisis, rarely do we emphasise the importance of washing our hands regularly, using a hand sanitiser or wearing a face mask. In fact, social distancing was unheard of then.
But now, these practices are no longer considered alien and we give them top priority each time we step out of the house.
At the entrance to any supermarket, restaurant or shop, we have to record our name, telephone number and body temperature before entering its premises, as per the standard operating procedures (SOPs) set by the Ministry of Health.
Sadly, some people do not take these SOPs seriously. Instead of giving their names, they use pseudonyms like Hulk or Spiderman and provide false contact numbers. They don’t realise the importance of this SOP – it is to facilitate tracking down people who visited a particular outlet in the event one of them turns out to be COVID-19 positive.
Our struggle against the spread of COVID-19 is still far from over and a resurgence of cases can occur if the people flout the SOPs.
Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has said that Malaysia needs 28 days of zero COVID-19 cases before it can be declared free of the pandemic, so the onus is on us to keep practising #kitajagakita.
Presently, almost all sectors of the economy have reopened while schools are reopening in phases between June 24 and July 22. We will all go back to our routine lives but this does not mean that we can stop complying with the SOPs.
We can learn a good lesson from Japan’s experience. After recording no new COVID-19 cases for almost a month, Japan had to endure a second wave of infections in July after two major cities recorded more than 100 new cases.
It was also reported that China experienced a shock resurgence in domestic infections in mid-June after its lockdowns were lifted.
Malaysia may be recording fewer new cases now but until a COVID-19 vaccine is discovered, we need to be vigilant and continue observing the new normal way of life.
Having said that, let us not forget to thank our frontliners, especially the healthcare workers, who have been working tirelessly to control the spread of the virus.
(The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.)
Edited by Rema Nambiar
Malaysian National News Agency
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