Last Nov 24, Covid-19 infections hit a record high of 2,188 cases and the first time it had surpassed 2,000 in just one day. By then, the total number had reached 58,847 for the first 10 months after the first case was detected on Jan 25 last year.
Although the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) was reintroduced from Nov 9 due to the spike of infections, particularly in Sabah, Selangor, and Kuala Lumpur, Senior Minister 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. But 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. After 28,251 cases were recorded on the first 12 days of this year, the MCO was reimposed on Jan 13 for five states and three federal territories.
Instead of extending the MCO for another two weeks from Jan 26, it has been now been extended to Feb 4, leaving a one-week window period before Chinese New Year. It now appears that MCO may end on Feb 4 if infections are down to a more manageable level to allow people to balik kampung during the Chinese New Year holidays.
But then again on Jan 13, Health director-general 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”.
The authorities will have to decide early whether to tighten control on the pandemic or let the people enjoy their freedom and suffer later. Announcing in late January or early February that the MCO will be extended from Feb 4 will cause a lot of inconvenience, or there will be a last-minute rush for many if travel restrictions are suddenly lifted.
If the powers that be lack the resolve to bring down the rate of infections to a safe level, the number of Covid-19 cases in our country would continue to go up and down like a yoyo for many months that may stretch into years, as not everyone will be vaccinated.
Sadly, lack of political will has caused stagnation and even regress in many areas such as education, economy, competitiveness and courtesy.
The views expressed here are strictly those of The True Net reader YS Chan from Petaling Jaya.