Moving into MCO phase two, we have to get serious about this. The second domain is the public health measures. In this part, it really needs to involve society at large. They must understand that they won’t be implored or begged to come (for testing) and they have to come forward willingly.

– Datuk Seri Dzulkelfy Ahmad, former health minister

Covid-19 is a dangerous virus. It is a new virus linked to the same family of viruses as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and some types of common cold. There is currently available no vaccine for Covid-19.

However, many of the symptoms can be treated and getting treated early can make it less dangerous.

As pointed out by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the virus also does not differentiate between borders, ethnicities, disability status, age or gender.

Nevertheless, Sarawakians were shocked when it was revealed on Friday that Transport Assistant Minister Datuk Dr Jerip Susil tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday while five other ministers were ordered to undergo home quarantine.

The five ministers were Deputy Chief Ministers Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas and Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan; Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian; Utilities Minister Datuk Seri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom and Welfare, Community and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah.

International Trade and Industry, Industrial Terminal and Entrepreneur Development Assistant Minister Datuk Naroden Majais, Tasik Biru assemblyman Datuk Henry Harry Jinep and several senior government officials were also ordered to observe a two-week home quarantine until April 16.

All concerned had come in close contact with Dr Jerip during a State Disaster Management Committee meeting on March 27. On Friday, they were listed among the 130 new cases of Persons Under Investigation in Sarawak.

Dr Jerip, who is asymptomatic, is believed to have contracted the virus from one of his staff members. He is now undergoing treatment at Sarawak General Hospital.

All this while, we have been advised to watch out for people with Covid-19 symptoms.

We learn that Covid-19 may appear between two to 14 days after exposure.

Signs of infections vary from people to people; some have little to no symptoms while others may be severely ill.

Symptoms may include fever, coughing, shortness of breath and these may lead to severe respiratory illness and multiple organ failure. People with medical conditions may even die.

But now, members of the public who have resisted wearing masks must do so now and be vigilant in taking health measures recommended by the World Health Organisation like washing hands frequently with soap and water or alcohol-based rub to avoid transmission by asymptomatic patients.   

“There’s significant transmission by people not showing symptoms,” according to Stephen Morse, an epidemiologist at Columbia University, in an article carried by Business Insider.

In the same article, Robert Redfield, the director of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, said, “25 per cent of people infected with the new coronavirus don’t present any symptoms or fall ill but can still transmit the illness to others.”

The first confirmation that Covid-19 could be transmitted by asymptomatic people came in February this year, when a case study described a 20-year-old woman from Wuhan, China, who passed the coronavirus to five family members but never got physically sick herself.

A World Health Organisation report about the outbreak in China, published in February, also found a few instances in which a person who tested positive never showed any symptoms.

However, according to the report, most people who were asymptomatic on the date of their diagnosis (a relatively small group) later developed symptoms. 

The movement control order (MCO) in Malaysia, initially implemented from March 18 to March 31, has been extended to April 14 in a bid to contain Covid-19.

We are now in the second phase of the MCO — a critical period for Malaysians to determine whether efforts to break the Covid-19 chain of infection are successful or not.

The MCO has been tightened to get all Malaysians to comply fully with it. In Sarawak, shops selling daily essentials open at 7am and close at 7pm. The public are not allowed to go out after 7pm unless they are involved in the provision of essential services and have a special permit from the State Disaster Management Committee.

Will the MCO be extended after April 14?

This is what Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said, “If we continue to comply with every directive and SOP (standard operating procedures) issued by the government, I believe we need not worry about an extension of the MCO.”

So, over to you, my friends. Let us comply with the MCO so that the chain of infection will be broken and life returns to normal again.