When you’re in a crisis of, you know, tremendous proportions, it’s beyond any human capability to control, you just make the best decisions you can, and you just hope that your intuition is correct.– RUDY GIULIANI, AMERICAN POLITICIAN, ATTORNEY, AND PUBLIC SPEAKER
We are now into our 14th day of the movement control order (MCO), the day it was originally intended to come to an end.
I have done my best not to go out except for the occasional trip to buy groceries, and three blood donations at the Malaysian Red Crescent, Miri District centre.
Over these 14 days, there has been a significant reduction in traffic. However, it was only after roadblocks were put up that more people took the matter seriously. There are of course those who have discovered some side road ‘jalan tikus’ to avoid the roadblocks.
The roadblocks, although an absolute necessity, did hinder some blood donors from travelling to the two centres in Miri city. Fortunately, with the intervention of (Sarawak Transport Minister) Datuk Lee Kim Shin, donors are now allowed to go to the centres upon producing their blood donor booklets.
The lack of traffic on the roads worldwide has also seen a considerable drop in air pollution. It is amazing to see pictures of clear skies over some big cities where previously smog was a permanent fixture.
In Miri, as part of our efforts to move towards a Low Carbon City (LCC), we were planning a ‘Car-Free’ day on just one small stretch of road to be held a few days ago. Now it looks like at least for one month we will be almost car free and have achieved LCC.
There are pictures of animals now wandering around the empty streets of towns and cities. Turtles in their hundreds coming ashore to lay eggs on previously congested beaches. There was even an article stating that the ozone layer might start repairing itself.
Environmentally, there seems to be a positive impact. Some say that the current pandemic is one of the earth’s ways of saying ‘enough is enough’ to the excesses of human lifestyles. Perhaps we need to pay heed to this ‘message’.
Overall, many people seem to have adjusted to staying at home over the last two weeks.
However, there still seems to be some making multiple trips a day. I read one report that stated people had been making excuses for going shopping up to four times a day.
I am sure not all might find it easy to confine themselves to home. Perhaps some forays from home are made to get some stress relief because of too much close proximity.
The helpline for ‘Talian Kasih’ 15999 and WhatsApp 019-2615999 for children and victims of domestic abuse reported an increase of 57 per cent in the number of calls. This indicates that staying at home has led to an increase in domestic issues and stress. There have also been reports of suicides in other countries.
On the brighter side, these two weeks have also managed to bring families together. In my case, it has been a very long time since my three daughters (two back from the university due to closure), mum, dad, wife and myself have sat down together for regular breakfast, lunch and dinner. Indeed, a blessing in disguise.
This crisis has brought out the best and worst in us. The best ranged from staying home to acts of charity on many fronts. The worst ranged from not obeying the MCO to spreading fake news.
We must carry on taking the MCO seriously for the next two weeks. I am sure we all want to get back to our routine way of life, albeit, hopefully with some improvements in our mindsets and attitudes.
In two weeks, on April 14, we expect things to return to normal. We have been under siege by the Covid-19 virus. However, truth be told, things might never return to the normal for many.
There have been many pandemics before over the centuries but never before has the whole world been brought to an almost standstill. The individual life’s, businesses, national economic systems and world trading systems, all have been impacted by us ‘Staying at Home’.
Considering this, can things really go back to normal?
Covid-19 has levelled society and does not respect any boundaries. There is no cure the rich can buy so far. It has affected people at all levels of society and affected all businesses. Even the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, has confirmed he has Covid-19.
Once we come out of this, there will be changes and adjustments we will need to make in order to fit into the new ‘normal’.
This pandemic will eventually end but we must continue to practise all the newly acquired hygiene practises. In China, there are already some reports of further transmission. If we are not careful, there might be rebounds if we take a relaxed approach.
Our ‘Sarawak First’ government is already doing its best to mitigate the negative impact of Covid-19 on all fronts.
Let us cooperate with the directives from the federal and Sarawak government to ensure we come out of this crisis better and stronger. There will be new pandemics we have to face in the future.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the New Sarawak Tribune.