LETTERS: As the name implies, the Movement Control Order (MCO) is not an indoor curfew but designed to control public movement to avoid crowding and ensure social distancing to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Incorrect understanding and misinterpretation of the order can lead to undesirable outcomes and increase the chance of Covid-19 spread. With public parks closed, I was severely reprimanded by three MBPP officers while walking out of Taman Belia even though I was walking alone.
Press reports similarly show police stopping people from walking on the beach or seaside promenades, even though they are not close to each other.
An apartment management has put up a notice forbidding residents with a temperature above 37.3°C from entering their own homes, in effect forcing them out to spread the coronavirus into the community.
Can the government and its officers bear in mind that the MCO is meant to prevent crowding, not to force people indoors?
A report by Araujo and Naimi showed that the Covid-19 coronavirus thrives best in a cool and dry atmosphere, as found in the temperate lands or in air-conditioned rooms (www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.03.12.20034728v1).
Hot and high humidity climates, as found outdoors in Malaysia, is the environment that best kills the virus. We do not want people to be crowded together but confining people inside the house, perhaps with the air-conditioner on, cannot be healthy.
Private companies and institutions should similarly not adopt illogical and perhaps illegal new rules that do nothing to reduce social crowding.
A report of 487,334 men from China followed up for 7.8 years showed that risk of cardiovascular disease decreases with physical activity, whether undertaken as exercise or even during work (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29117341).
However stress is very bad, with a Swedish report showing that over eight years of follow-up, patients under more stress had far higher rates of life-threatening infections (www.bmj.com/content/367/bmj.l5784).
Stress and absence of physical activity, two possible results of our MCO, will reduce immunity and increase the risk of Covid-19.
To reduce Covid-19 transmission, we must have social distancing and obey the MCO but behave intelligently so as not to make life so stressful and sedentary that resistance drops and virus transmission increases.
DR ONG HEAN TEIK
Consultant cardiologist, Penang
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the New Straits Times