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A mural by street artist "TV Boy" depicting a famous film "Roman Holiday" with Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn as she holding a banner reading "Clear Air Now" is displayed on a wall near ancient Colosseum, in central Rome during the Covid-19 outbreak. AFP
A mural by street artist "TV Boy" depicting a famous film "Roman Holiday" with Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn as she holding a banner reading "Clear Air Now" is displayed on a wall near ancient Colosseum, in central Rome during the Covid-19 outbreak. AFP

WHAT started as a virus outbreak, which, according to scientific experts, originated from an animal, has metamorphosised into a pandemic. Covid-19, hitherto contained in China and countries in the region, has spawned into a monster whose claws have sunk deep into every continent of man. From the Americas and Europe, to Africa and Australia.

It is a disease that has foisted on unsuspecting human beings with terrible consequences — every aspect of life has taken a hit. From grocery shopping and walking in the park to going to work and taking a vacation — they all carry unimaginable risks.

The economic damage is huge; experts are struggling to explain. Companies are shaken to the core, factories have shut down, workers are being retrenched, stocks are tumbling, markets are plunging — the effects are rippling across the globe. Estimates by the United Nations put the cost of Covid-19 to the global economy at US$1 trillion for this year. It also projects the global economy to slow down to under two per cent this year.

The international community and world leaders must concentrate on the mounting costs of this pandemic. There is no other recourse but concerted global action. Unfortunately, the brewing geopolitical rivalry between the United States and China is not helping — both are blaming each other for Covid-19 and its eventual spread. Good sense needs to be quickly restored — an interdependent globalised world is here to stay, countries have to band together.

Newly appointed Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was right to address the nation for the second time on Friday night; leaders need to reassure their nations that they are on top of the crisis. Malaysia has seen a spike in new cases this past week. Up to yesterday, there are 238 cases, of which 35 patients have recovered. Thankfully, there are no deaths.

There is one certainty Malaysians can be thankful for amid all this uncertainty — that our public healthcare system is beyond reproach and our brave men and women are tirelessly working 24/7 to bring this virus to heel. Praise must surely be accorded to them, and as responsible Malaysians, we should assist them in every manner possible.

Could it be that the world is resetting itself? Perhaps. There are lessons to be gleaned from Covid-19. This Leader hopes Malaysians treat Covid-19 as part of life’s lessons — a phase the country has to weather to mature, develop. A “necessary evil” that has forced us to rethink our priorities. A pause in our rat race world. Airport lockdowns and travel restrictions by some countries, for instance, have brought global travel to a near standstill but serves as a reprieve from the worsening environmental pollution. Greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, there’s less traffic in airspace and on the roads and clearer skies in once polluted cities.

As we are forced to stay and work from home, the importance of families, friends and community is re-emphasised. It is sad, though, that the collateral damage has to be the deaths of so many. A post-mortem, therefore, is crucial when the dust settles.

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