Trials and tribulations

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.

– John Adams, second US president

A new world record!

This one is not to be proud of — more than 400,000 new Covid-19 infections reported in India within a day at the time of writing.

At the same time, 3,689 deaths were reported within 24 hours and a cumulative total of 215,000 deaths.

The horrifying images of the appalling Covid-19 related circumstances in India are also being used here to try and shock complacent people into adhering and complying with the hygiene SOPs.

The figures here are also nothing to be smug about. Sarawak has a relatively small population of about 3 million and 182 deaths compared to the 1.4 billion population in India with 215,000 deaths.

Using an online ‘Crude Mortality Rate Calculator’ puts Sarawak at six deaths per 100,000 people here and India at 15 deaths per 100,000.

While some complacent people might have changed their ways after seeing numerous videos, others are coming across as die-hard and stubborn non-compliers.

Taking into consideration the lax attitude by some towards life-saving measures it becomes even more vital that as many people as possible above 18 years old get vaccinated.

In Sarawak, only 901,399 have registered for vaccination reflecting a low 43 percent of the eligible population of those above 18 years of age.

Keeping in view that the last ‘Green’ designated stronghold, Simunjan just fell and is now classified as yellow, leaving Sarawak without any green zones, it becomes imperative that we need to encourage more Sarawakians to register.

Under any usual circumstances you would have thought that if the government had announced that there were free vaccines available to save your lives, people would be rushing to register.

The fact that only 43 percent have registered indicates some issues have negatively influenced people not to register.

One of the probable factors for this low uptake is the negative news surrounding the various vaccines.

Despite the many good outreach campaigns by the government, some people are still holding back due to either friends or family passing on half-truths or outright fabricated news.

Such misinformation is mostly obtained from social media and chat groups. It can indeed be difficult to change the mind of some people who have graduated from ‘WhatsApp University’.

The drive to register more persons is perhaps also held back by some hardcore ‘anti-vaxxers’.  They are religiously propagating their view that the vaccines are either not required or will cause untold harm.

In one of my chat groups, there is one such person who makes a daily post against the Covid-19 vaccination and has managed to change the mind of one person that I know of.

Perceptions play an important part in the resistance to register. Let us hope sense prevails eventually.

It is also good to see that the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee with the help of the chief minister managed to have the schools in Sarawak closed despite the strong initial resistance by the Ministry of Education.

This closure of schools was a necessity as an increasing number of students were being tested positive. It is really sad to see the increasing number of school kids queuing up in the hot sun or rain for their swab test.

I also viewed a video clip on social media of a Covid-19 positive child coming out of the ambulance on her own and being directed into a building for isolation.

We are also now approaching two major festivities, Hari Raya and Gawai. It will not be easy tasks to convince some people to restrict or even cancel festive activities and gathering.

We, humans, are emotional and have a strong desire to reconnect with family and friends during such times.

Logical and rational appeals tend to fall on deaf ears during the festivities or gathering.

Despite the fact, there are many daily trials and tribulations, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg and his team have on the whole done a commendable job in managing this on-going health crisis. We need to do our part.

While the images of the heart-breaking scenes in India are unfolding and shown across the world, pray that such a scenario does not happen here. And to quote my fellow columnist who wrote in this paper yesterday, ‘Pray we don’t become a ‘Little India’!  

Let us not set any records here that harm human lives or cause deaths.

I am sure you will agree that Sarawak has so much to offer us and vice versa. There is much still left for us to see, feel and experience in this wonderful Land of the Hornbills.

LINDUNG DIRI, LINDUNG SEMUA.

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