Covid-19: Onus is on public to remain vigilant

Covid-19: Onus is on public to remain vigilant

KUALA LUMPUR: “It feels like we are living in Gotham City,“ a friend wrote on her social media account, referring to the constant wailing of ambulance and police sirens in the country’s capital as the infection rate skyrocketed.

Malaysia recorded 8,290 new cases on May 28, 2021, the highest in a single day thus far. It has surpassed India’s new infection rate per million population on a rolling seven-day average since May 23.

Gotham is a fictional city which appears in American comic books published by DC Comics, best known as the home of Batman, where there would always be people in need of help and medical attention.

From a battle that began about a year ago in which we almost won, we have walked into a full-blown war against the virus that robs people of life and livelihood.

A total of 2,552 individuals have lost their lives in Malaysia and we are back on ground zero with a full lockdown.

To be fair, Malaysia is not the only country that has seen a spike in Covid-19 cases this year. It has been a roller-coaster ride for other countries as well regardless of their vaccination pace.

The fatality rate in the country is also considered low as 86.3 per cent or 474,139 people have recovered from the disease since last year.

I can’t gauge the situation or how it has spread in the rest of the countries that have seen a resurgence of infections except for the numbers that are being put forward.

But, in Malaysia, we are not short of stories of how the standard operating procedures (SOPs) calling for social distancing, travel restrictions and fewer gatherings have fallen on deaf ears.

One that made me cringe recently is Dr Tharshana Thenakaran’s post on her preparation to deliver a possible Covid-19 patient’s baby at 4am.

The post read: “When we asked how this was possible, her reply was that she went ‘visiting/travelling’ during Raya.” Her relatives were unwell and yet she “chose” to visit them.

The patient came back home and wasn’t feeling too well; however, she still had relatives/friends come over to her own house to visit.

“It frustrates me that throughout this ordeal, she couldn’t spare two minutes to think about how this affects her unborn baby,“ said Dr Tharshana in her post on her Instagram account @tash_karan, which was widely circulated.

“Forget thinking about us frontliner strangers but she didn’t realise that if she is Covid-19 positive, it changes her entire delivery experience.

“Zero consideration was given, zero awareness was present,“ she wrote, stating how tiring and demotivating it had become for frontliners like her.

As of Thursday May 27, 2021, 24 Raya celebration clusters were recorded.

On the other end are stories on how, due to overwhelming resources being channelled to Covid-19 patients, people with other illnesses are receiving less attention or much-needed help.

A heart-breaking thread by Mohamad Nazri Hashim on Twitter relates how he lost his mother as there were not enough doctors to conduct the kind of operation or care she needed.

His late mother, Raja Nahzar Hasnah Raja Mahmud, was diagnosed with kidney stones but was unable to get immediate treatment.

She managed her pain for almost a month before being taken to the emergency ward due to infection in her blood and lungs.

Although the mother was struggling to breathe, she was unable to secure a ventilator as the breathing machines were set aside for COVID-19 patients, said Mohamad Nazri via his account @_NazriH.

Despite being critical, no ICU bed was available as the beds had been occupied by COVID-19 patients and she was put on antibiotics, he claimed.

After almost two weeks of waiting, she passed away, he said. She was 68.

Amid the latest lockdown in the country, calls for aid and help are set to come in.

No doubt, an expansionary stance is the need of the hour and the government stands ready to beef up the healthcare system and help the vulnerable.

But, it is also important to be mindful that stimulus packages, handouts and blanket moratoriums are not sustainable solution – they can only be temporary measures while the situation is being contained.

In a nutshell, a lockdown is imposed to buy time for an exit strategy and alleviate the pressure on the country’s healthcare system which is currently handling about 72,823 active cases.

Even those vaccinated are not immune to Covid-19; one can still get infected if one is not careful.

Vaccine helps to build the immune system and fight the virus, but it is not a ticket to go totally mask-free and attend social gatherings.

Moreover, until and unless 70 per cent the country’s population of over 30 million people are vaccinated, herd immunity will remain just a dream.

Hence, regardless of how many billions of ringgit the government pours into the economy or the countless initiatives being dished out, the onus remains on the general public to not take things for granted as lives are at stake.

Remember, the virus doesn’t travel, people do. So, stay home, unless it is of utmost necessity to step outside. – Bernama