BY BALKISH AWANG
KUALA LUMPUR: Be it a total lockdown or partial lockdown, the Covid-19 pandemic is not likely to end if the people continue to flagrantly violate the standard operating procedures (SOPs) that are in place to stem the transmission of the coronavirus.
While attaining herd immunity via the ongoing Covid-19 vaccination drive is vital in order to quell the pandemic, voluntarily practising self-lockdown – that is, going out only if it is absolutely necessary– can also go a long way towards reducing infections.
New Covid-19 cases and deaths in Malaysia peaked at an all-time high of 9,020 and 98 respectively last Saturday (May 29) before lowering to 6,999 and 79 on Sunday (May 30); 6,824 and 67 on Monday (May 31); and 7,105 and 71 yesterday (June 1).
In view of the surge in cases and deaths, the National Security Council – in a special session on May 28 – decided to enforce a total lockdown on social and economic sectors nationwide for 14 days starting yesterday (June 1). This will be the first phase of the lockdown during which only 17 essential economic and service sectors are allowed to operate.
In a special discussion on the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic that was broadcast over RTM and Bernama TV on May 23, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin urged the public to practice “self-lockdown” to prevent further surges in new cases.
He said whatever efforts carried out by the government would not be effective if the people do not comply with the stipulated SOPs.
Self-imposed lockdown necessary
Commenting on the call to practice self-lockdown, head of Infectious Diseases Unit at the Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Teknologi Mara Sungai Buloh Dr Rosnida Mohd Noh said a self-imposed lockdown is one of the measures individuals can take to reduce the likelihood of being infected by the Covid-19 virus.
“However, the extent of restrictions one can practice would depend on the situation an individual is in. I understand that many people are facing financial constraints as a result of the pandemic and some of them even lack basic essentials such as food. As such, observing self-lockdown is out of the question for them (as they have to go out to earn a living),” she told Bernama.
Dr Rosnida opined that it is up to every individual to evaluate their position and cut down unnecessary movements outdoors.
“Avoid going out unless it is necessary to do so. Preventing infections is our joint responsibility,” she said, adding that looking at the recent surge in Covid-19 fatalities and the long-term effects of Covid-19 on the health of those who have recovered from the disease, no one would want to be infected by the virus.
“Hospitals are overflowing with patients, with some having reached maximum capacity. When a hospital reaches maximum capacity, many Covid-19 patients cannot be attended to properly due to the shortage of staff and life-saving equipment.
“As a doctor, I have seen the effects of Covid-19 on Malaysians in real time… the time has now come for every individual to do whatever they can to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and this includes reducing unnecessary movements.”
Last week, Bernama surveyed a few shopping complexes located in Wangsa Maju and Setiawangsa here to see if the public is adhering to the call to practice self-lockdown.
One shopping complex in Setiawangsa was relatively quiet when it was surveyed between 6.30 pm and 8.30pm on May 24, one day before the enforcement of the 8am to 8pm operating hours for restaurants. In fact, some of the restaurants stopped taking orders for food at 8pm even though they were allowed to operate until 10 pm that day.
Another shopping complex in Wangsa Maju was also rather quiet when surveyed between 2pm and 4pm on May 28. In fact, some shoppers were not allowed to enter the mall as they were not able to register themselves using their MySejahtera application due to their faulty mobile phones. This particular mall only allows registration via MySejahtera and not manually.
According to Zamzuri Manab, a security supervisor at the mall concerned, there were still shoppers who brought along their children with them although they were strongly discouraged from doing so.
“We certainly don’t encourage the public to bring their children along when they come here to buy their essential products but they still do,” he said, adding that the mall’s supermarket limits its number of patrons to 200 at any one time.
Mohamad Amirul Fahrin Fahzan, 16, who was one of the shoppers at the mall, said he supports the practice of self-lockdown, adding that “instead of blaming others (for the rise in infections), we should bear the responsibility of taking care of our own health”.
Mohd Zubair Mohd Yusof, a Pakistani trader selling headscarves and clothes at the mall, said his business has dropped by 80 percent and that there were days when he did not get a single customer.
“Maybe people are scared to leave their homes and are being more careful. Today, I have been waiting and waiting but not a single customer has stopped by (at my stall),” he added. – Bernama