COVID-19 is no ordinary disease. Any fight against this fiendish contagion must be fought with extraordinary efforts at national and individual levels.
Let’s take the national efforts first. Starting today, the country will be under the Restricted Movement Order.
There is a view that this should have come in the early days of the virus. Standing as we do today with all the information we have of the contagion, yes Malaysia should have taken this path.
But dwelling on “should have” and “if” isn’t going to help us contain the contagion. There is also a debate about what Restricted Movement Order means.
The government has declared the order, and let’s take it at that. Games of semantics will only delay us from discharging our shared responsibility in fighting Covid-19.
Politicking never helped during normal times. It never will during emergencies. It doesn’t matter which side one is on as long as it is the side that is fighting Covid-19.
Shared responsibility means everyone — there is no exception here — taking simple steps to prevent Covid-19 from spreading. If one person shirks this responsibility, the contagion will get worse.
Selfishness of a few may cause the deaths of many. If this happens, the government may be compelled to go for a full lockdown.
This is not a good thing for the social beings that we are. Neither will it be for the nation.
Things will fall apart and the economy may not be able to hold itself together. Already it is business unusual for many.
China, South Korea, France, Germany, Italy, Iran and the United States are textbook examples of the damage that the coronavirus can cause to countries prepared and unprepared.
The backstory of the prepared countries is this: on a personal level, everyone stands ready, willing and able. We, too, must stand ready, willing and able.
On a personal level, the simple steps are a few. One is to volunteer for testing when the symptoms surface. Self-isolation for two weeks is advised in this case.
People who have just returned from travel should do the same. South Korea makes it easy for people to come forward by providing even a drive-through testing. Malaysia must do the same.
Better still, provide testing kits to be done at home. As the World Health Organisation says, “test, test, test”. This is the key success factor of South Korea. It is in this way and by social distancing — see no crowd, go no place — that transmissions of the virus are prevented.
Social distancing doesn’t mean we stop caring for our fellow beings. Emptying shelves of all there is into our trollies makes us lose our high ideals. Let not Covid-19 blind us into this.
By all means make the visit to supermarkets, but just take what is needed for a week, not for a year. Others, too, need to eat to keep well. It must be really a very hard heart that goes to bed with the stomach full when the neighbour’s isn’t.
Yesterday, the New Straits Times and other mainstream media ran pictures of queues and greed at supermarkets as if Tuesday had been cancelled.
We mustn’t show our faults like this. Better still, practise them away before our children head for the supermarket.