How to resuscitate a failed pandemic response

Date:

BY AWANG BOLKIAH ALI

To determine an effective solution to our current predicament of a stubborn and sustained Covid-19 new case level, one must first have the humility to accept the fact that the hodgepodge strategy of misconceived half measures — adopted to date — has been a dismal failure.

These decisions, sadly lacking any sound public health policy to date, must be cremated before we are able to resuscitate an effective response.

An immediate and total travel ban from out of Sarawak must be instituted. Any moronic attempt to water down this directive must be met with the sledgehammer response of disdain and contempt that it warrants.

Illogical and ignorant dissent to this mandate on the basis of “economic damage” must now be dismissed as the delusional rantings of morons who are blind to the economic damage caused by the repeated ineffective and failed health half measures implemented to date.

This is in no way to be advocated as a licence to disrupt the transportation or trading of all manner of goods, with adequate and sound decontamination public health measures in place; as has been clearly proven and demonstrated in ground zero China.

The districts with the maximum viral exposure must be put under total lockdown for at least three weeks, with government food and essential items transported under the appropriate authority to alleviate and address all public needs. Inter-district travel to and from these area must be prohibited with no exceptions.

A rapid vaccination programme at the village level (not at centres requiring travelling over long distances) must be implemented in those areas locked down with any approved, low-temperature, easily distributed vaccine being used.

All individuals, regardless of vaccination status, must be educated and compelled to don masks in public for the foreseeable future. People must be made aware of the fact that vaccination does not guarantee total protection from infection, but for the most part only provide protection from the moderate and severe effects of Covid that may have deadly consequences.

The only way to continue to protect themselves and their families is by practising responsible and sensible masking and social distancing for the foreseeable future.

Simultaneous targeted mass testing in the areas with the highest new infection rates must be performed to determine the asymptomatic prevalence of disease in the community, and to aid any future planning in allocation of resources to combat further outbreaks during this pandemic.

The failed strategy of testing only symptomatic individuals who present themselves and their contacts has yet to reveal any worthwhile data in driving an effective public health policy.

All essential frontline workers (any group that requires dealing with the masses) and their families must be vaccinated, failing which, these essential workers must be confined to vaccinated communes, and allowed to only return to their homes in the interim period after serial negative testing.

Effective SOP management of such communal living must be stringent to ensure there are no “quarantine failures” attributed to complacency or indifference.

Protagonists of the softly, softly approach — strategy of the last one and a half years of this pandemic — are blind to the suffering and devastating economic turmoil that they are responsible for.

Can they even seek to justify their failed public health policies that have brought us to this cliff edge of economic doom?

Can even one politician in Australia argue that the economic cost of repeated lockdowns there in response to every “imported surge that resulted from quarantine failures”, since the start of this pandemic, justifies the premature lifting of their travel bans since the onset of this pandemic?

If a country with the resources of Australia cannot effectively carry out quarantined travel how can we ever hope to do so?

Remind those advocates that their lack of a proper travel ban policy has resulted in every Sarawakian surge since 2020; and the total economic devastation to our economy to date, must be laid at their feet!

The cost of a total and effective lockdown in the most vulnerable areas of Sarawak, for an additional three weeks, will have but a miniscule effect compared to the cumulative economic cost of their failed public health policies to date.

The warrior spirit of our native population in this time of need, coupled with the unified and unmitigated economic support of our ethnic Sarawakian brethren, will undoubtedly see us through the eye of this storm.

Let us not succumb to the forked-tongued rhetoric of economic doom personified by the ignorant amongst us, and let us boldly go forward to battle this scourge with every proven tried and tested public health measure available to us.

Now is not the time to rely on the delusional fantasies of the “what if’s!”

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the New Sarawak Tribune.

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