For the first time in history we can track the evolution of a pandemic in real time. Influenza viruses are notorious for their rapid mutation and unpredictable behaviour.

– Margaret Chan, Chinese-Canadian physician who served as the WHO director-general 

Crowded coffee shops, markets, supermarkets and streets. This is although we are in the middle of a pandemic. Looks like everyone was given a public holiday.

We are now into the seventh day of the movement control order (MCO), meaning restrictions placed on our movement due to the highly infectious nature of Covid-19 that has caused so many deaths.

There are seven days more to go. Our social behaviour over the past week and next seven days will determine if this MCO will be extended or if we go into total lockdown.

For those of us not in essential services, this means staying at home, unless we absolutely have either to go out for medical reasons or to replenish our necessities.

The MCO implementation was widely publicised. Yet some treated it casually. In our towns and cities, some people had an attitude of business as usual. There was no sense of urgency, meaning shop and go home.

It was only with the announcement and implementation of roadblocks manned by police, Rela and army personnel that there was a significant reduction in movement.

People with common sense are those who are deemed to be reasonable, responsible, reliable and practical. Where was common sense over the last few days? Out the window, it seems. It certainly was not common and some people had no sense. From this, we can conclude that it is merely a word we all like to use and not actually apply.

However, not all is lost. We still have many who have followed most of the MCO rules. We must acknowledge these people who have complied. Silent heroes who stayed home.

We also have the frontliners. The hospital staff, cleaners, nurses and doctors and many other professions working tirelessly and bravely on the frontline to take care of the ill in these dangerous conditions. They deserve our thanks and respect.

I was also happy to receive a positive message from Datuk Patinggi Dr George Chan, asking that the Miri Red Crescent Blood Donor Recruitment Team carries on to provide full support to the Miri Hospital Blood Bank. These are precisely the times blood is required even more.

The government is doing its part. There are of course some implementation issues. However, we the people also have an important role, that is ‘Stay at Home’. Can you imagine this? Staying home and even if you do not do anything, you can save lives.

Of course, for the guys this can be difficult. Imagine all those household chores we have made excuses not to do before. Well, time to share the load and wash dishes and do those long due minor repairs around the house. Hopefully, there are no divorces and perhaps just more babies in nine months after the MCO is over.

In such times, politicians also must set aside their differences and work towards making sure that our people come out of this pandemic alive and with the capacity to start building their lives again.

In times of crisis moral decision also must take precedence over political decisions. I still remember when the Covid-19 outbreak started in China, there were statements by politicians trying to compare this outbreak with so called more serious outbreaks. They were trying to make Covid-19 like a minor issue. Perhaps they were thinking of businesses and the economy. However, as I mentioned in my previous column, the economy can recover, but lives once gone cannot be brought back.

Let’s look at China, a nation of 1.4 billion people. They overcame this devastating pandemic. So can we, if we work together and stay at home. In Miri, the first death has just been announced. We must all take care of ourselves to take care of others.

We do not know, but this second wave could just be the tip of the iceberg if we don’t play our part. Only a total lockdown and more drastic measures will be taken if the third wave (local to local transmissions) takes place. This time we can only blame ourselves.

In the meantime, many people will be undergoing economic hardship. We are fortunate that our Chief Minister has just rolled out economic and aid measures to mitigate the negative financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He has covered all people affected in one way or another. This RM1.15 billion package is being borne by the Sarawak government coffers and due to good financial management, the government has these funds available.

This is proof that we need Sarawak-based parties to look after Sarawakians. Such a wide-ranging caring and comprehensive package would most likely not be forthcoming if we had external parties involved in the Sarawak government. Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg has lived up to the ‘Sarawak First’ promise.

As he said yesterday, “Let us go through this for Sarawak.”

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