Time to stem the tide against Covid-19 infections

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On October 3 last year, the number of Covid-19 cases in the country was 12,088. It took 222 days to breach the 12,000 mark after the novel coronavirus was first detected in Malaysia on January 25, 2020.

Raja Faisal Hishan/The Star

But from January 5 to 9 this year, a total of 12,739 cases were recorded over this five-day period, with a record high on January 7 with 3,027 cases. Clearly, current measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 infections are untenable.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin is expected to announce the next course of action on Monday January 11. It would be no surprise if inter-district and interstate travel will be reimposed to prevent mass gatherings for holidays or social reasons.

For example, a family of 16. ranging from two to 60 years old, went from Labis in Johor to the Klang Valley for family activities from Dec 17 to Dec 25 last year. Sadly, all of them were infected with Covid-19 and the eldest died.

Apart from restrictions on travel and tightening of standard operating procedures (SOP), enforcement and monitoring need to be stepped up as large number of people are still not wearing their masks properly, many out of ignorance including VIPs seen in photos and videos.

The upper part of the mask must be pulled as high up as possible without covering the eyes. The top part of the mask must be pressed firmly down to the face while the bottom part pulled down to cover the chin tightly and ensure there is no gap around the mask for air to flow through while breathing in and out.

But many people are covering only the lower part of the nose, while some have their nostrils exposed so that they could breathe normally. There is no problem breathing through the mask fabric if it is clean and of the right material.

While I remove my mask only after the food or drink is served and put it back on as soon as I finished eating or drinking, many other customers like to chat before, during and after a drink or meal. It would be wonderful if no chatting in coffeeshops and restaurants can be included in the new SOP.

Whenever my wife had to buy fresh produce at the wet market, she had to keep dodging others who kept crossing her path or stand close to her. It would be wonderful if there are personnel such as RELA could use a megaphone to call out those who do not practise physical distancing.

Many people could be ignorant while others are just stubborn or indifferent. But without intervention, there will be no behavioural change. Albert Einstein once said, “The world is a dangerous place to live in, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”

The aborted Kuala Lumpur to Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) was touted as a game-changer when the bilateral agreement was signed in 2016. Hopefully, the measures to be announced by the Prime Minister on Monday would be a game-changer in our war against Covid-19. Unlike HSR which is limited to economics, the big battle before us is a matter of life or death.

The views expressed here are strictly those of The True Net reader YS Chan from Petaling Jaya.