Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly. It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death. 

– Dr Tedros Adhanom, World Health Organisation director general

Waves! And I don’t mean the kind on our wonderful shores. I’m referring to the ‘tsunami’ type that has been wreaking havoc across the globe.

We have been placed on alert in Sarawak, as it seems we are on the verge of another wave of Covid-19 infections.

Malaysians welcomed the news when the Prime Minister announced the recovery movement control order (RMCO) phase.

There was a sigh of relief from all — from individuals to businesses to students to parents, all waiting to get back to normal.

For many, after a period of adjustment, they adapted to the ‘new normal’ of physical distancing, the regular washing of hands and using face masks.

Yet, others went back to the ‘old normal’ — life and business as usual before the pandemic.

Perhaps the word ‘recovery’ in RMCO triggered off a ‘we’re all safe now’ attitude.

Some of us went back to crowded coffee shops, markets and supermarkets in droves without the necessary precautions.

So, what are the behaviours that we have come across in this RMCO period?

Some people stopped using masks even in crowded places. It was also common to see face masks not used properly.

It’s a common sight to see the nose not covered properly by the face mask.

In many eateries, some cooks and waiters were either not using face masks or only had them on partially.

Another common practice was the slack recording of names and temperature. They made it look as though it was optional. The ‘tembak sendiri’ way of temperature taking is common today.

It’s only a matter of time before the virus rears its ugly head again.

The Sarawak government has put in a tremendous amount of resources and time to mitigate the spread of the virus, and the economic hardship of Sarawakians.

Let’s make sure we make the effort as well to bring Sarawak back into the green category.

We do have some peculiar practices though.

Our kids sit in school buses next to each other with no physical distancing.  However, when they come out of the bus, they have to be a minimum of 1 metre apart in school.

Travellers sit closely together in planes and in their transport to hotels for quarantine purposes. However, the moment they step into the designated quarantine hotel, its physical distancing all the way.

Oh well! Many of us just wave off these inconsistencies, as we in Malaysia already are so used to such types of contradictory scenarios, a spillover from the chaotic political scene, I presume.

I saw this comment recently by a netizen on his social media page. ‘You know, I know lah, if a bowl of mee kolok from RM3.50 becomes RM1003.50.’, referring to the RM1,000 for flouting MCO rules.

Such lessons and continuous enforcement are essential in sending out a strong message.

You can hear people talking to each other while walking into coffee shops saying ‘use the mask, ah, otherwise got RM1,000 fine’.

Sad, because it should be ‘use mask because it will save lives’ (your own most likely), and it’s the right thing to do.

To be honest, I’m sure many of us have let our guard down or relax in one form or another.

We received a timely reminder from Miri mayor Adam Yii a few weeks ago when he stated that Miri City Council was making the rounds to ensure compliance with hygiene regulations by businesses.

He mentioned that there were some PUI cases in Miri. This caused great consternation.

I received positive comments it was good that he shook people out of their complacency.

We need such constant alerts from time to time if we are to keep Covid-19 at bay.

It’s easy to slip back into old and comfortable unsafe habits. We have all slipped here and there. Keeping up our guard 24/7 is hard.

It’s imperative that we continue to care for each other by taking care of ourselves.

If we’re to hold back the many waves of Covid-19, there’s no going back to the old ways. Take care, stay safe always.

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