LETTERS: We have to admit that we are in an alarming situation as Covid-19 is raging across the country unabatedly. The daily figures are clear evidence that the country will not be out of the woods any time soon.
We are told that the number of cases may hit 5,000 by the end of next month. With Hari Raya Aidilfitri approaching, many people may decide to cross districts or attempt to sneak across state borders to visit their loved ones.
If this were to happen, the rate of infections will escalate. The slow pace of vaccination adds to public concern as they wait anxiously for their turn to be inoculated.
With new variants of the virus posing more risks, the situation may spiral out of control unless serious and vital steps are taken to address it.
The authorities will have no alternative but to impose another round of deterrent measures to contain and deflate the infections if we don't want the daily figures to go south.
Businesses that are affected will be impacted further, while the people will be saddled with more hardship. But do we have a choice if the masses keep moving around recklessly and carelessly showing indifference and defiance to standard operating procedures (SOP)?
Further easing of people's movements may not be feasible. Just look at India, where the daily infections are more than 300,000. That should serve as a warning that the same can happen here too.
Australia and New Zealand have strong control mechanisms that have proved effective. There, even fewer than five cases would trigger a lockdown.
When someone was infected in Perth a few days ago, certain parts of the city were placed under lockdown for three days.Another example is the island-state down south, which took steps that also proved effective.
Their daily cases are around five to six — not a cause for great concern but they still maintain their vigilance.
That is how serious and decisive these countries are in wanting to contain the spread of the virus at its source. An indifferent attitude towards the SOP seems to be the cause of recent spike in infections.
It means that Putrajaya must act decisively, wisely and urgently to curb daily infections by imposing drastic control measures and deploying more enforcement to areas where people gather for trading or shopping.
Putrajaya must act swiftly, especially in terms of movements of people and goods, and take steps to address shortcomings that can trigger an upward trend.
Compliance with SOP and caution at all fronts must be placed at the highest scale for religious and cultural celebrations.
We saw how the last Hari Raya, Deepavali, Christmas and Chinese New Year were celebrated with strict SOP and limited number of people permitted to gather at one place.
We can return to normalcy only if everyone does his or her part. It has to start now.
Dr Tan Eng Bee
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the New Straits Times