Malaysia has imposed a nationwide lockdown beginning June 1st to 14th. We have to thank the decision makers for this decision, fully understanding that no decision is going to be perfectly correct in a changing and fluid situation like the current one. There is no need to panic buy ahead of the lock down. The country has enough supplies. The positivism of the early months of 2020 may have now turned into a summer of discontent as a writer said, but it is the nation’s resolve and discipline that will help us win. We need to survive to restart our lives.
It is easy to criticise and comment without the benefit of data, but regardless, all of us have a role to win this war together. Hopefully, the MCO:
- will flatten the curve given the rising number of Covid-19 cases and
- give the stretched health services system a breather to cope with the crisis.
Obviously, there are many commentators and critics out there giving much advice. ‘If only’ the Sabah elections had not taken place, ‘if only’ the lock down was imposed few weeks ago, ‘if only’ the pace of vaccination was faster, ‘if only’ the private clinics are roped in to support the vaccination drive, ‘if only’ there is more economic support and ‘if only’ the people are more disciplined – these are nothing more than intellectual debates in futility.
‘If only’ is not relevant; what is relevant is what each one of us does today.
- The Director General of Health’s comment on Facebook today pleading against mass movement of people, urging people to stay put and give the health system a reprieve is something each one of us can do. According to the DG, the national Covid-19 infectivity rate, measured as R0 or Rt, has gone up to 1.15 after dipping for the past five days.
- Each one of us can counter the myths of the dangers of vaccination and persuade our family and friends to get vaccinated. A few days ago, two highly educated professionals called me to ask if the vaccine caused neurodegenerative disease in 10 years. Why think about 10 years later when the challenge is now? They had no evidence, just some social media posts and there was anxiety due to all the misinformation. Eventually, they went on to get vaccinated after great persuasion and all is well.
- Vaccination, as everyone knows, is the way forward. We must accelerate the vaccination drive. Maybe we need to make a case to the decision makers for private clinics to be involved to accelerate the drive. The US has vaccinated 50% of its adult population through the pharmacies and other regular chains. The UK too has been rapidly vaccinating its population. The results are there for everyone to see.
- The MCO is a painful decision – lives versus livelihoods – and there is tremendous pain. Hopefully, there will be support from the government for all those who need it, both individuals and businesses. Hopefully, the levers of society, such as the banks and other agencies, will focus on supporting those who need economic support in a moment like this crisis. Without lives, there will be no livelihoods. There is a need to ‘bite the bullet.’
- Social gatherings and mass movements of people will have to take a backseat for a while. The experience in India is a traumatic one.
- Social Media has a powerful influence in today’s society. While the freedom to express our views should not be prohibited, we need to respect sensitivities and be careful about what we post. Our kindness on social media holds up a mirror to our society. We need all the kindness we can muster in moments like these to support decision makers. Criticism and abuse must be differentiated and understood.
- The goal, as a celebrity said, is not to argue who is right but what is right and be together in this war to win the war. President Reagan remarked, “There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you do not care who gets the credit.” It is not the time for political upmanship. This is the time to rise above the din, be magnanimous and bring people together.
- Last but not the least, the MCO will end sooner if we all play our part. Stay productive, follow a routine for work, exercise, and housework. And dress up to feel good every single day.
- As the DG of Health said – “kita jaga kita” (we take care of ourselves).