Stepping on grounds where angels fear to treads, I ventured to suggest publicly on January 25 to hold religious events on line. If we had, we may have been on a different path today! But that is all water under the bridge!

At this most trying time, I have said, and I still say, I am in favour of holding most things on line. Whether conducting classes, lectures, seminars, conferences, training and the million and one modern day promotions! Using modern technology and internet to the fullest. 

It is my hope and prayer that leaders of all faiths and beliefs would consider going on line until such time when all can go back to traditional way of worshipping. 

Now let’s all stand together in dealing with this coronavirus pandemic and its outfalls. Let’s look at the present situation and a few facts, quietly and rationally. That the coronavirus pandemic can be contained has already been proven in China. 

That by high standards of personal hygiene and following the recommendations of qualified experts, we can vastly reduce the chances of being affected.

Our aim as responsible caring citizens must be doing all we can to reduce loss of life to a minimum by calmly adopting the advice of the World Health Organisation and our health authorities.

Not acting on rumours, by panic buying or calling on medical services when not really needed. Always putting the common good before our own interests, real or imagined. Happily complying with any Ministry of Health’s directives that seek to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, even when this interferes with our daily lives, activities and routine. Complementing the federal and state governments for having the courage to act and to help.

This is a time for us all to pull together. The present coronavirus pandemic is upsetting the world’s economic order of ‘free markets’, arguably providing the lowest cost product to the consumer on a world-wide basis.

This has resulted in an intricate chain of nations each contributing in some way in the manufacture of any specific product. The coronavirus and efforts to disrupt its spread have seriously disrupted this chain, which is leading to a downturn in industry, tourism, shortages, collapse of small businesses, and loss of jobs.

In the immediate, our government is no doubt thinking of how to support those in need in some form, such as public works and businesses through reducing their costs.

Whilst it is impossible to foresee the future, we as individuals can provide support in any way we can to the community we live in.

Much of the modern social media is in constant search for unbridled sensationalism which can spread fear and cause panic more quickly than any pandemic. As citizens, we must not allow ourselves to be affected by this, and make sure we help in any way we can in dealing with this coronavirus pandemic and its outfalls.

Accepting the many challenges we now face with fortitude and determination. As responsible citizens of this country, setting a high standard for others to follow.

The escalation of cases in the last few days in Malaysia after a religious event attended by more than 15,000 people in the Klang Valley is most distressing. At this stage, given the current state of affairs, it appears to me that the most practical thing is for Malaysia to focus on the testing of the maximum number of people by making it widely available so people will come forward for testing, strictly enforcing isolation, expeditious treatment of suspected or infected people, contact tracing, encouraging social distancing and regular temperature taking and monitoring of symptoms so that symptomatic people can be managed accordingly.

The escalation of cases during the last few days is just the beginning, and more will be seen before the situation improves.

It is imperative that our authorities must be prepared to cope with a large influx of cases that will be sent to the designated hospitals. We must, therefore, add more facilities quickly. Ensure our doctors and nurses and healthcare workers are not overwhelmed by adding to their numbers.

There must be enough face masks, protective gear, ventilators and ICU beds. This is important to ensure proper care and treatment is given to the patients. Admittedly, few nations can build a hospital in 10 days. An average hospital takes a few years to build.
I suggested using the unused state of the art multi-million hospital (now heart centre) for SARS patients 

At the height of SARS, I asked the then Chief Minister of Sarawak if the government would allow a purpose built, but brand new, unused, multi-million ringgit state of the art private hospital be used by the Sarawak General Hospital for SARS patients. SGH was stretched beyond its limits.

I told him “if anyone said we could build a hospital in six days, then it would fall on the seventh day!” (Today I was proven wrong by the Chinese!) I told him “let’s put the unused hospital (the current Sarawak Heart Centre) to good use.” To my greatest surprise he said “Yes!”

Just when China appeared to have contained Covid-19 having literally quarantined millions of people in one important province, Hubei, many cases have now been reported in Italy and Spain where the numbers are increasing by leaps and bounds. 

All events and gatherings of any form in public or private have been suspended. Evidence of the pressure this has placed on its medical service is one man’s inability to have his sister’s body taken away by ambulance for several days after her death in their home.
Some European countries have adopted lockdowns. This drastic control of human movements is a most effective way to contain the deadly virus.

Other European nations will also need to introduce lockdowns, and may directly or indirectly, have to adopt China’s highly successful draconian lockdown to fight and contain the onslaught of this virus attack of unprecedented magnitude, The American system may not cope that well with this pandemic.

Healthcare facilities are mainly in the big cities and their President’s budget cuts and policies have not helped.

China has done reasonably well seeing how badly hit it was at the start — it managed to confine the outbreak largely to Hubei and adjacent provinces despite the suddenness of the onset and the fact that nobody really knew much about the disease in the early days.
Our immediate and collective goal is to defeat Covid-19 and its outcomes, together, united, and determined.

It is a battle that we must win, a war we cannot afford to lose!

Datuk Seri Ang Lai is a philanthropist, charity director, social and environmental campaigner, and businessman. He is the Chair, Commander, and founder of St John Ambulance Sarawak branch.