I am getting worried about the rising Covid-19 figures. I have every reason to.
Let’s look at the figures and fatalities in our state in the last nine days, April 10-18: 296 new cases, four deaths (April 10); 443, 0 (April 11); 351, 0 (April 12); 607, 4 (April 13); 489, 5 (April 14); 512, 2 (April 15); 960, 0 (April 16); 512, 1 (April 17); and 508, 1 (April 18).
If these grim figures don’t raise concern, I don’t know what will! All I can say is if we look at these figures and give a nonchalant shrug, then we are all done for. God help us all!
Sarawak has been making national headlines — and for the wrong reasons. We have topped the national Covid list on several occasions now.
We used to look at neighbouring Sabah and Selangor with scorn, and now I am not surprised if the nation is viewing us with disdain.
A Malayan friend, a former Umno deputy minister (don’t ask me who), WhatsApped me last Friday after we topped the list with 960 new cases.
Here’s our abridged (unedited) conversation:
Friend: Hey bro, what happened? Teruk betul you guys. 960!!!
Me: What to do-lah Datuk Seri? I guess it’s God’s will that we should go through this.
Friend: I ingat your SDMC taking all precautions and measures. Some more, you people still insist on 14-day isolation. Make us susah sini.
Me: Why susah?
Friend: Why not? We are forced to stay quarantined in your hotels for 14 days. Terpaksa bayar sendiri. We can’t even carry out our business. Making our lives susah jer.
Me: Rules are rules, Datuk Seri. Just follow our rules!
Friend: Then why the figures so high. Terror you all.
Me: I think the people not following SOPs, Sir.
Friends: What SOP? Ask your political friends to follow SOP dulu. Tiap2 hari ada function! Why like that! They should set example. The leaders not giving good example, so how you expect the rakyat to follow??
Me: Ya-lah Sir.
Friend: Not fair to force people and fined them if your leaders tak perduli … Ask your YBs to hold events on Zoom.
Me: True. But no choice-lah. They hold events and people attend-lah.
Friend: Senang jer. Boycott their events. Baru dia orang tau!
Me: Ok-lah Sir. I convey your message to my YBs …
Friend: Hey, jangan jangan. Nanti, I kena banned dari Sarawak. Hehe
So much for the conversation between my friend and I.
Now, let’s get this clear. The SDMC has been doing an awesome job. Don’t blame the committee for the sudden surge in the Covid cases. The people there have been doing their best to tackle the pandemic.
It’s not their fault that the pandemic has spread throughout the state. I am going to say this and some people might not be happy: Blame the people, and some YBs too, for not taking the lead to help curb the spread of the pandemic.
And who are the people in the first place who allowed events like the Ramadan bazaar? Everyone knows the bazaar will draw crowds and how do you expect patrons to maintain social distance? What a joke! Some people must be sleeping.
The virus spreads in crowded places, confined spaces and during close conversation.
Even state Health director Dr Chin Zin Hing has said that public gatherings are among the main reasons for the surge in the cases and clusters in Sarawak.
Funerals have contributed to several clusters. So have social gatherings. Then there are failures to observe SOPs like wearing of face masks, social distancing and hygiene. They all contributed to the spike.
The SDMC has introduced several measures. It’s up to the people to follow these steps. And of course, enforcement should be strict. It’s pointless for SDMC to set all the SOPs if there is no strict enforcement.
What are the enforcement agencies waiting for? Waiting for tens or hundreds of people to drop dead before taking action? Or are their hands tied and have to wait for green light from the politicians who themselves do not strictly follow the SOPs?
Among the latest SOPs introduced by SDMC are restricting inter-district travel, limiting physical meetings and social activities for government servants.
On top of that, there are plans for schools to close temporarily as circuit breakers in red zones and reviewing business sectors with high risk of spreading the virus.
Meanwhile, let’s play our role by adopting the following measures to curb the spread of the virus:
• Continue to take precautions like physical distancing, hand-washing and mask-wearing.
• Keep in touch with local health authorities who can provide information if cases begin to increase.
• Work with the medical authorities to ensure that everyone in your household is up to date on vaccines.