NOVEMBER 25 — I’m no virology expert but it’s clear to me (and about millions of others) that the on-going conditional movement control order (CMCO) hasn’t done much (if at all) to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the Klang Valley.
The numbers have been hovering around “empat ekor” levels the last few weeks.
But the major outbreaks are limited to specific areas. As per last week, the key clusters are limited to Kapar, specifically Top Glove factories. Thus, while the high number of a thousand plus daily positive cases is concerning, the fact that the cases are NOT spread out across the Klang Valley (let alone the nation) should bring some optimism.
So, on one hand we have huge daily cases coming from one or two places, yet we continue to have statewide lockdowns and the very real problem of failing businesses (not least in the tourism and education sectors) continues.
I’m no economist, but let’s be honest that we’ve heard too many stories of friends and acquaintances suffering from severe losses of income. It was already bad in April and May but now it’s gotten worse — do we seriously expect people to survive a third round of lockdowns?
Therefore here’s a proposal many people are already talking about: What if we restrict the MCOs (whether ‘C’ or ‘E’ or whatever) to specific locations and let the rest of the country open up?
For Selangor/KL, the answer is pretty obvious: Lock down certain places where the high caseloads are. That’s it.
Close specific companies guilty of not taking care of their migrant workers but let schools, school canteens and school-bus operators run again.
Roll out the barbed wire around specific super-red zone areas but let cinemas (!) reopen; the theatre operators were already very strict with their SOPs even as of June.
Allow people to travel across states; let the business deals resume. And while I detest the long walking distances in KLIA2, I absolutely believe our airlines need to get up and fly again.
Community self-regulation is paramount
Understandably, a lockdown was necessary in March especially given how much we didn’t know about the virus. But after nine or 10 months, globally it should be obvious that the key to stopping the virus isn’t a government mandate forcing everyone to quit living their lives.
And now the economy is nearing a point of no return.
We must remember that lockdowns are like surgery i.e. it should only be used in emergencies. An emergency in this context would be defined as clusters or outbreaks which are akin to runaway trains. One case in KLCC Suria is not a cause of major concern; neither should two cases from one mosque precipitate an emergency.
This is something to remember should lockdowns be lifted: We all need to chill the heck out.
The key is not to avoid places, but to maintain SOPs. Masks, social-distancing, avoiding crowds and closed spaces need to be nailed into our heads. When masses of people maintain SOPs, major clusters (and, therefore, lockdowns) are avoided.
Example, a friend of mine recently came back from New York. He told us that when he was having dinner in Bangsar, some of the waiters weren’t wearing masks. Being a New Yorker he promptly told the waiter off. But how many Malaysians will do this? Do Malaysians in general help to remind and warn each other, even strangers?
The authorities, of course, need to step up their testing and backward tracing game (not to mention their disciplining of companies who failed to take care of their migrant workers) but the public also has a part to play in reviving the economy in the midst of a pandemic.
Self-regulation is really the only thing we can do as a community to both slow the spread of the virus and avoid damaging people’s livelihoods more than they already have been.
* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.