Although the number of deaths and new cases of Covid-19 in China appears to be stabilising with containment measures, Covid-19 is now experiencing local transmission in Malaysia and many other countries in all continents.
The Ministry of Health has responded with utmost professionalism in handling these cases and deserves the kudos given by health professionals and global authorities.
However, a major outbreak of Covid-19 will require balanced and coordinated responses beyond the Ministry of Health (the whole-of-government) and beyond the government (the whole-of society) – i.e., Malaysia has to act together.
Containment and mitigation strategies must be calm, timely, balanced, effective, coordinated, and based on current global consensus and evidence. Such strategies should include public and private child care centres, kindergartens, schools, universities, and aged care centres, which are under the responsibility of multiple ministries, local authorities, and the private sector.
Beyond just the tourism sector, employers and businesses such retailers and service providers should be engaged and supported in a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach.
Spread associated with religious meetings have been significant in several countries. Therefore, engagement with religious authorities, state governments and civil society is critical.
Crucially, strategies must be well-communicated with the public, so that the public will remain calm and be informed of how and when to seek care appropriately from clinics, hospitals, and/or designated entry points into the health care system, remembering that the vast majority (at least 80 per cent) of Covid-19 cases will either have mild or no symptoms.
Covid-19 can be spread by infected persons who appear well, has a long and variable incubation period, may spread by faeces and animals, and, importantly, stirs social stigma.
Malaysia’s climate is warm and humid, but strategies should not assume this climate will impede the spread of COVID-19, a novel virus, until this is proven and wider evaluation confirms the degree of local transmission.
An effective vaccine is not expected soon and no antiviral treatment is currently proven to be effective. These features should inform current strategies as many of these features differentiate Covid-19 from expectations of pandemic influenza, for which the National Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Plan was written in 2006.
Although measures to contain Covid-19 would invariably separate us physically to prevent spread, we call on all quarters across all sectors and all affiliations to ‘come together’ in unity urgently to address Covid-19 for Malaysia’s sake.
- Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (Former Minister of Health, Malaysia)
- Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam (Former Minister of Health, Malaysia)
And 42 additional signatories from civil society organizations and individuals representing community and religious leaders, health professionals, academia, NGOs, employers, employees, consumers, and the tourism, education, and aged care sector.
- Prof Dato’ Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman (Dean of Medicine, Universiti Malaya)
- Mr Amrahi Buang (President, Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society)
- Ms Audry Wan Ullok (President, Sarawak Tourism Federation)
- Ms Chrisanne Chin (National Director, 247 Prayer Malaysia)
- Mr Delren Terrence Douglas (President, Assc. for Residential Aged Care Operators of Malaysia)
- Dr Ganabaskaran (President, Malaysian Medical Association)
- Dr Hartini Zainudin (Founder, Yayasan Chow Kit)
- Dr Helmy Haja Mydin (Co-founder, Asthma Malaysia)
- Mr J Solomon (Secretary-General, Malaysian Trades Unions Congress)
- Dr Jeffrey Abu Hassan (President, Islamic Medical Association Malaysia)
- Archbishop Julian Leow (Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur)
- The Most Ven Datuk K Sri Dhammaratana (Chief High Priest of Malaysia, Buddhist Maha Vihara)
- Mr Lau Chee Boon (Chairman, LLG Cultural Development Centre)
- Sis Loh Pai Ling (President, Buddhist Missionary Society Malaysia)
- En Lukman Sheriff Alias (Chair, Malaysian Alliance of Civil Society Organizations)
- Ms Moey Yoke Lai (Chair, Federation of Christian Mission Schools Malaysia)
- A/Prof Dr Mohammad Husni Jamal (President, Academy of Family Physicians)
- Datuk Munirah Abdul Hamid (President, Muslim Women’s Action Society (PERTIWI)
- Haji Mustafa Abd Majid (President, Malaysian Association of Medical Assistants)
- Bishop Ong Hwai Teik (President, Council of Churches Malaysia)
- Datuk Ong Seng Khek (The Kuala Lumpur And Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall)
- A/Prof Dr Pang Yong Kek (President, Malaysian Thoracic Society)
- Dato’ Dr Paul Selva Raj (Secretary-General, Fed. of Malaysian Consumers Associations)
- Mr Phillip Yong (Chairman, Association of Sarawak Inbound Agencies)
- Dr Raj Kumar Maharajah (President, Medical Practitioners Coalition Association)
- Prof Dr Raja Affendi Raja Ali (Dean of Medicine, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia)
- Prof Dr Rosmawati Mohamed (Master, Academy of Medicine Malaysia)
- Prof Dr Shaiful Bahari Ismail (Dean of Medicine, Universiti Sains Malaysia)
- Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan (Executive Director, Malaysian Employers Federation)
- Pn Sharipah Asiah Syed Junid Aljunid (President, Malaysian Nurses Association)
- Tuan Haji Yuzaidi Yusoff (Chairman, Muslim Professionals Forum)
- Dato’ Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar (President, Public Health Physicians Association)
- Prof Zaleha Abdullah Mahdy (President, Perinatal Society of Malaysia)
- Tan Sri Dr Abu Bakar Suleiman
- Dato’ Dr Alex Mathews
- Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
- Datuk Dr Christopher Lee
- Tan Sri Dr Jemilah Mahmod
- Tan Sri Datuk Dr Kamal Mat Salih
- Prof Emeritus Dato’ Dr Khalid Abdul Kadir
- Datuk Dr Kuljit Singh
- Dato’ Dr Musa Nordin
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