Help the govt to stop Covid-19

A person in public without a mask during a pandemic is a walking septic tank. 

– Abhijit Naskar, best seller author

This week my topic will still be on Covid-19. I had wanted to write on violence against women after I came across a video clip showing Taliban troops beating and whipping women protesting Afghanistan’s all-male interim government. But I decided to keep it for next week — apologies to the fairer sex — when I realised the record high new coronavirus cases reported in Sarawak yesterday needed some attention.

The State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) reported 5,291 new daily cases yesterday, up 1,548 cases from 3,743 on Saturday. The number of fatalities was eight, two down from the previous day’s figure of 10.

Sarawak’s cumulative number of cases now stands at 156,798. The worrying part to note here is that this is the first time that the state had breached the 5,000 mark.

This is quite alarming, considering that beginning this month, the figures have always been above 2,000. This isn’t a good sign though most of the new cases are under Categories 1 and 2, meaning they are asymptomatic and mild.

Let’s look at the daily figures — new cases and fatalities — for the month of September alone.

On Sept 1 there were 2,414 new cases and seven deaths; Sept 2 (2,992 cases – seven deaths); Sept 3 (2,464 – seven); Sept 4 (2,723 – two); Sept 5 (3,747 – 15); Sept 6 (3,714 – 12); Sept 7 (3,200 – seven); Sept 8 (3,100 – 10); Sept 9 (3,118 – nine); Sept 10 (3,734 – five); Sept 11 (3,743 – 10) and Sept 12 (5,291 – eight).

A total of 99.94 percent or 5,288 cases yesterday were Categories 1 and 2 involving asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic patients. Only three, or 0.06 percent of the 5,291 cases were in Categories 3, 4 and 5, meaning they were serious cases.

There were 91 deaths in the first 12 days of the month. Pray the figures will not go up; we still have 18 days to go before the month ends. So far 625 Sarawakians have died from the disease.

What’s going on? Is enough being done to contain the virus? Are we adopting the correct measures? Are the existing SOPs effective or should we review them and introduce more stringent rules?  Are the right people in the right place to tackle this debilitating disease that has ravaged the community and the country’s economy?

Oh, no! Don’t point the finger at the SDMC, the health authorities or the government. They have been doing all that they could. Their manpower, healthcare and financial resources have been stretched thin.

At times I feel we all have been unfair to these people, especially the medical front-liners. These front-liners have been working extended hours; private hospitals are also chipping in to treat patients because government hospitals have been stretched to breaking point.

The ordinary people should shoulder most of the blame for the spike in the cases. Yes, because we have not done enough to help stop the spread of Covid-19 and hence contributed to the pandemic. I am prepared to be greeted with brickbats for saying this. But someone has to spit it out.

Allow me to point out some of the actions by the public that have worsened the situation.

I have seen many parents throwing caution to the wind by bringing their young unvaccinated children to shopping centres and bazaars. There was one couple who stopped by a roadside durian stall two weeks ago. Accompanying them were their two five- or six-something kids.

Aren’t they supposed to leave their kids at home?

I have also noticed many people in public not wearing their masks properly. Their noses, mouths and chins are not covered appropriately.

Many do not maintain the one-metre distance between themselves and others when they queue up at outlets. When they are reminded by the shop people, these customers would pick a quarrel with the poor proprietors.

Recently, I told off a guy queuing in front of me while waiting at the ATM machine. He was not maintaining the one-metre distance and I politely told him to stick to the SOP.

He gave me a hard stare and said: “This is a democratic country and I will do what I like.”

I was pissed off and retorted: “Yeah, you can do what you want. But if you’ve got to die, don’t bring others with you. This is democracy, right? I don’t wish to die with you. You want company? You can bring your family with you!”

That fella was caught by surprise and kept quiet after that, and moved further away from me. Phew!

Many customers are also not scanning the barcodes with their MySejahtera at eateries or business outlets as required by the health authorities. Scumbags!

The risks of contracting the disease are higher in crowded and inadequately ventilated spaces. These environments are where the virus spreads by respiratory droplets.

Outbreaks have been reported in restaurants, fitness centres, nightclubs, offices and places of worship.

So, the onus is on us to stop the virus. Don’t be overdependent on the government; our politicians and healthcare people can only do that much. The rest is up to us.

And don’t expect God to help us to wipe out Covid-19! Remember, God helps those who help themselves.