Are We Ready To Open Our Asean Borders? — Dr Arvinder-Singh HS

By CodeBlue | 29 June 2020

Are we ready to take responsibility if our cases go up locally or if other countries decide to blame us for an increase in their local cases?

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There has been much talk of allowing our borders to re-open with a green-to-green allowance for travel and trade between Asean countries. This is indeed worrying on a few grounds.

Please spend two minutes of your valuable time to see the table provided on details about the Covid-19 situation in all Asean countries.

Graphic on Covid-19 cases, fatality rate, and tests in Asean countries, as of June 26, 2020. Graphic by Dr Arvinder-Singh.

We just witnessed a few hours ago (whilst writing this article) that 610 people coming into the country were infected with Covid-19. Now, leaving Malaysians returning home aside, are we ready to open our borders to people whom are non-residents/non-residents/visitors into our country? Are we also allowing our Malaysians to travel to other Asean countries during this pandemic? I feel no.

Look at the table again. Notice that how countries like Singapore and Brunei had massively tested and found many cases. This is what we were worried of. With inadequate testing, did we catch all the cases?

We are definitely not at Trump levels of saying slow the testing down, but maybe we have not hit optimal levels of testing especially with our foreigners. The numbers for countries like Indonesia and Philippines in terms of cases and deaths are absolutely abysmal (their testing has become better recently but they started after the ship sailed).

From the table, one may ask why I have arranged the active cases by percentage and not by number of cases. It is because those countries like Myanmar and Vietnam are severely undertesting (that are above Malaysia) and the number of asymptomatics that are coming into contact with the public might be higher than expected.

Honest opinion — the borders for trade–import and export might be a good idea. Allowing mass travel between these zones must be done with caution. We cannot even account for countries and their testing.

There are some countries that during the compilation of the above table were not even reported by sources that were using PCR tests only (meaning to say they might have been using the lowly graded antibody testing to diagnose).

Singapore, being an advanced country like ours and testing rapidly, is a perfect example of what the actual situation might be like in other countries. Are we ready to take responsibility if our cases go up locally or if other countries decide to blame us for an increase in their local cases?

This matter best be mulled over a longer period and with a close ear to the ground on the situations of other countries.

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