Why I’m Glad The MCO Will Be Eased This Monday — Keng Yew

We must acknowledge that the new normal we are facing is one where Covid-19 is here to stay.

I woke up to hear the good news about the easing of the Movement Control Order (MCO). My close friends and family members know very well I am not a fan of the MCO, only because it was put in place in a hurry with too many flip-flops and policy U-turns throughout its implementation with wide repercussion to many people.

However, from the first day it has been implemented until now, I have complied, not because I fear the fine or jail time but rather, deep down I just want the MCO to meet its objectives in as little time possible with as little impact on our daily lives.

So, what’s the objective of the MCO then? I recall an advertisement I saw on the Net where a row of matches was lit where it burnt out midway because there was a gap between the row of matches. It hit home with a message concerning social distancing to break the spread of Covid-19 infection.

Also, I recalled, at the initial stage, there were people who religiously snap photos and post vigilante type of postings on community postings to portray joggers, runners or walkers with their dogs as arrogant and uncooperative, despite the fact that the poster himself is actually out and about exposed to the same air and risk.

Well, over time and even now, there are many who turn doomsday naysayers predicting a new wave will emerge with the lifting of the MCO if anyone broached about why the MCO was extended.

Some even went as far as saying it should be extended until after Hari Raya Puasa and Gawai because Malaysians in general are at heart, filled with diehard habits.

But why stop at after Hari Raya Puasa and Gawai though? Why not until we have one whole month of zero infection before we seriously consider lifting the MCO?

But again, is that the objective of the MCO? Will the MCO stamp out Covid-19 infection one and for all? This is the unfortunate tragedy of having the MCO.

It seems like many of us are conditioned to think that in the absence of vaccine, only with the MCO can we stop the Covid-19 infection. Until a vaccine emerges, we cannot lift the MCO as infection rate will rise again.

It seems above all else, this is the only threat that is immediate and threatening and it must be eliminated at all costs. Or perhaps, if there are zero infections for a whole month, we can perhaps “assume” it is now safe that Covid-19 have left our shores and we should turn our vigilance now towards those from outside our country. Until then, our safety from this Covid-19 threat resides with the MCO being in place.

Ideally, it sounds wonderful to keep the MCO going with such expectations, but is it really that case in reality? I think many are mistaken to assume that the MCO can stamp out Covid-19 infections altogether. The on and off reporting of sporadic infections with no links to earlier detected patients is a good testament that the risk of contracting Covid-19 remains even as we are now in Day 45 of MCO.

You can blame it on those who don’t comply with MCO rules, but ask yourself this — without someone doing the difficult, dirty and dangerous jobs to ensure we can get our essentials and, in some ways, our lives have as much comfort we can get while we stay put at home, would there even be infections by now?

So unless we can totally isolate ourselves and live independent on each other with zero contact with one another for a long period of time, it is virtually impossible to eliminate Covid-19 infections with the MCO.

Instead, what the MCO is meant to do is “flatten the curve”, which basically means to delay the rate of infections to a level that our health care facilities and caregivers can handle and treat with the best care provided.

We certainly don’t want our doctors left with the option to choose who should receive ventilators and who shouldn’t simply because we are left with no ventilators to spare.

Meanwhile, with the MCO in place, it has afforded much needed time for the government to build additional capacity to handle more cases. One thing is for sure, the MCO has shown us that our government needs to seriously relook at whether our medical facilities are adequate to face another pandemic like Covid-19.

Underlying all this capacity-building and handling, there is also an undertone of disciplining the masses to have a new “normal” mentality. Normalcy would now include social distancing and good hygiene practices (regular washing of hands with soap, use of sanitisers and wearing face masks).

This new normal will be incorporated into companies’ standard operating procedures, one with the view to reduce (not eliminate) the risk of getting Covid-19 infection.

Meanwhile, discovery of a vaccine (despite the recent positive news about possibility of being discovered by end of the year) is still at least 12 to 18 months away. Until then, we still need to go out and get their essentials.

We still need to earn to pay for those essentials. If things break down at home, we need others to come by and fix it. Hence, we are exposed to risk of contracting this virus as we will be in contact with others who might be asymptomatic carriers.

Even with a vaccine, it doesn’t mean you won’t get infected. Rather, with a vaccine, one can use it to develop immunity against the risk of getting infected, thereby reducing the risk of getting infected. Yet, we still read news of former Covid-19 patients getting infected again, hence discovering a vaccine is not a cure-all solution either.

We must acknowledge that the new normal we are facing is one where Covid-19 is here to stay.

Despite this, based on the World Health Organization (WHO) findings to date, it suggested that 80% of infections are mild or asymptomatic, 15% are severe infection, requiring oxygen and 5% are critical infections, requiring ventilation. What that means is for me, I have 80% chance of only having mild symptoms if I get infected and pray and hope I don’t develop severe or critical infections.

Coupled with social distancing and good hygiene practices, I can hope to further reduce the risk of getting infected, but I am not delusional to think that I am not at risk of getting infected.

As we emerge from a restricted MCO to one which is relaxed come May 4th, we need to take note that we now face a bigger challenge, one which involves attempts to rebuild a wrecked economy.

Many are left unemployed, numerous businesses closed or closing down for good, while uncollected debts are piling. Doing nothing and waiting it out is not a sustainable solution for most of us (though perhaps some of you out there can afford to do so) and now at least many of us can go out and attempt to rebuild lost jobs, livelihoods and businesses.

Meanwhile, we can now do our part, even if some of you out there aren’t fond of it, to cooperate and comply with the relaxed MCO rules as it is was set for our sake to begin with.

  • This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.

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