Malaysia is struggling between bringing the third Covid wave – the longest in the world – under control by reducing the daily increase of new Covid-19 cases to triple-digit and then double-digit figures and the full flaring of the fourth Covid wave.
Everybody is scared that Malaysia may go the way of India, where a second wave has created apocalyptic horrors, with grim scenes of people dying in hospital corridors, on roads and in their homes and where car parks have been turned into cremation grounds while desperate families scramble to find oxygen, medicines and hospital beds.
The one-day national sigh of relief because the daily increase of new Covid-19 cases in Malaysia had fallen below the 3,000-mark after three straight days above 3,000 and 13 straight days above 2,000 cases was dashed when 3,418 new Covid-19 cases was reported on Sunday, but with the report yesterday that there were 2,500 new cases the previous day, hope has returned that there is still light at the end of the tunnel.
Today, India crashed through the 20 million mark for cumulative total of Covid-19 cases, and if this apocalyptic rate of Covid-19 infection continues, India may overtake United States (which presently has a cumulative total of over 33 million cases) by the end of June as the world’s No. 1 country with the most number of Covid-19 cases.
Malaysia must learn from the mistakes of the war against the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the first place, there is no reason for Malaysia to have a cumulative total 417,512 cases to be ranked No. 43 among nations in the world with the most cumulative total of Covid-19 cases, and on the verge of overtaking Saudi Arabia to be ranked No. 42nd – when we were ranked No. 85 on November 11 last year.
Why is Malaysia ranked No. 43 and having a greater cumulative total of Covid-19 cases while other countries in East Asia, ASEAN and Pacific have lower ranking and fewer cases like Myanmar (ranked No. 82) with 142,842 cases; South Korea (84) 123,728 cases; China (96) 90,697 cases; Thailand (99) 71,025 cases; Singapore (104) 61,235 cases; Australia (120) 29,838 cases; Cambodia (133) 15,361 cases; Hong Kong (145) 11,787 cases; Vietnam (176) 2,981 cases; New Zealand (178) 2,622 cases; Taiwan (192) 1,145 cases; Laos (195) 966 cases and Brunei (201) 227 cases.
There is an important lesson from the episode where the government removed the AsrtraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine and made it an opt-in choice for the public because of “vaccine hesitancy” over the British-manufactured vaccine.
The 260,000 appointments for the AustraZeneca vaccine were taken up in three hours.
The government must learn from its mistakes in war against Covid-19 pandemic – and one of lessons it must learn is that its communication is a disaster.
This stemmed from its failure to spearhead an “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” strategy and approach, which resulted in its taking the false route to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, like the declaration of an emergency and the suspension of Parliament.
Will the kakistocratic government now return to the proper route, which is to end the emergency and to reconvene Parliament immediately?
The overwhelming majority of Malaysians support efforts to bring the Covid-19 pandemic under control, but the measures must be practical, fair and just, with its implementation even-handed without double standards.
I support the call by the Enterprises Association (Samenta) that enforcement authorities should adopt a consultative approach when it comes to penalising those who don’t comply with the SOP, starting with a stern warning if an SME is caught infringing the SOP the first time instead of the maximum RM50,000 compound fine.