Stay strong, says Sarawakian in Xiamen

Kon (top, centre) has a meeting with his department through video calls during the restricted movement order in Xiamen, China.

KUCHING: Today, we enter the sixth day of the movement control order (MCO), an order enforced by the government to ensure we stay put at home to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus. The order runs from March 18 to 31.

How is everyone coping? Malaysia is not the only country to implement MCO due to Covid-19. Many countries in the world are doing the same, not just for days, weeks but for months.  

Before you think of hanging around, think about your health and safety. Don’t put yourself, your family and friends in danger.   

Have you ever thought of Sarawakians working elsewhere where the movement restrictions have been implemented for months? If they can cope with the restrictions, so can we.

Today, Michael Kon, 30, a Kuchingite, shares his experiences on how he managed his daily routine during the lockdown and movement restriction period in Xiamen, China.

As of today, he has survived over 50 days of restricted movement in Xiamen.

Kon, also known as Cikgu Mike, moved to China in 2013 and is now currently in Xiamen teaching early childhood education (ECE).

“When the news broke on the lockdown of Wuhan as well as movement restrictions, I was spending my spring holidays in northern China. My first reaction was to get a mask and avoid the public as much as possible,” he said.

Kon added there were difficulties in rebooking his flight home as the airlines kept cancelling each flight booked.  

“When I finally managed to get a flight, I decided to head back to Xiamen instead of Malaysia to avoid the risk of being a carrier,” he said.

He said Xiamen, just like Malaysia, went through movement restriction instead of total lockdown and everyone adhered to it. Most shops were closed and only supermarkets were open for grocery shopping

“After three weeks of the restrictions, we began to see no new cases and after four to five weeks, we finally hit zero case in Xiamen itself and I am proud to say as of today, we have been Covid-19 free for more than two weeks,” he said.

Kon added there were still minor movement restrictions on who could enter the apartment areas, dining arrangements and temperature taking. Masks had to be used all the time.

Asked whether his payroll was affected by the partial lockdown period, he said according to the Xiamen’ province law, he was given a minimum pay of RM1800 (RM1120) since February.  

“Despite that, we still have to be on standby   preparing for the upcoming academic year, producing lesson videos and videos for online teaching as it is part of our role to ensure that learning never stops for the kids.

“Honestly, I was more affected at first by the fact that I was unable to go to work rather financially. However, I’ve set aside three months’ worth of emergency fund to pay for my monthly commitments including mortgage and food and necessities,” he said.

Kon added Xiamen was now 90 per cent normal.

“We’ve got shopping malls running as usual and cafes are open. However, social gathering places such as gyms, religious places, karaoke lounges and cinemas are still shut of now,” he said, adding that people are allowed to dine in most restaurants but were required to put on masks when not eating and to sit 1 to 1.5 metres apart.

He confessed that when the movement control order was imposed, the first week was rather depressing because he stayed alone in his one-room apartment.

“However, I make use of my time to indulge in Netflix, my Nintendo Switch, a lot of reading and even picked up new skills in drawing and playing the ukulele. I manage to spend more time with my friends and family, too, via video calls,” he said.

As such, Kon encourages Sarawakians to be strong during this period.  “If I can do it, Sarawakians can also,” he added.

“Sarawakians, let’s do our part in helping to curb the spread of the virus. Stay home and stay calm.

“Stay strong, binge on watching your favourite drama series and spend lots of time with your loved ones,” he added.

The view outside Kon’s apartment which shows a quiet and calm street during the movement control order.