APRIL 27 — I'm dreading the announcement about the relaxation of Covid-19 SOPs. While I know many Malaysians, politicians included, have been clamouring for the removal of mask mandates, all I can wonder is if they are out of their minds.
I haven't been sleeping much because I've been up late looking up masks and ordering my favourite KF94s to stockpile in preparation for the ridiculous SIRIM exercise to certify non-medical masks.
I do not understand why non-medical masks need to be certified when it's right there in their description that they are not medical devices.
In case you are curious, I only use two brands of KF94 masks as I find that South Korea is a lot more strict in handing out certifications for masks and while there are fakes, it is more likely to find KN95 fakes as China's certification authority is a lot more lax.
Right now LG's Airwasher masks are my favourite as they have adjustable ear loops with a sturdy nose wire and the combination of those two things ensure my glasses don't get fogged.
They are however expensive and to lower the price I need to order them in bulk directly from South Korea so the next best thing is the Korean brand Arte that uses a different design but is half the price of LG masks.
Arte is one of the more popular brands in its home country and after trying the masks I can see why — besides a fetchingly stylish design with a variety of colours, the stiff nose wire and the way it hugs my cheekbones gives me a good seal without sacrificing too much comfort.
Disclaimer: no one is paying me to endorse masks though I wish someone would.
I have tried various local brands but I have not been impressed by their quality control — some had non-uniform ear loop thickness while others had poor finishing, apparent if you place them side-by-side with imported masks.
Right now I am waiting for my new mask upgrade, namely elastomeric reusable masks. It is hard, in Malaysia, to get a reusable medical silicon-grade mask that doesn't make you look like an alien or a Darth Vader wannabe.
However I don't think I have a choice. Mask wearing works better when everyone is masked but now that might end, short of wearing a hazmat suit, my only option is to switch to a higher grade of mask than KF94s.
The joy of terrifying small children and anti-maskers aside, it still feels depressing to be forced to up your own protection measures because the world at large has just given up.
Have people forgotten the sounds of ambulances coming every hour? The sick who collapsed by roadsides or on walkways, the quarantine centres and the containers for bodies our hospital morgues could not contain?
Long Covid is real. Getting Covid gives you no guarantee that you will not get it again and with the mutations coming ever so frequently, and our blasé approach to testing, most of us will likely not know which strain we caught.
Sure, I miss my friends. I miss concerts. I miss being able to go anywhere without reaching for one of my masks (which I now hang on a chain, swapping them to prolong their lifespans).
What I will miss most will be my health and mobility should I become one of the unlucky Long Covid sufferers.
I spent most of my childhood recovering from frequent chest colds and spending up to two weeks on bed rest, because that was how sick I would get.
While I was fortunate to have grown out of having a fragile immune system the possibility of experiencing that, again, as an adult terrifies me. I don't get why it doesn't scare people more.
I know many of you want things to go back the way they were but the reality is that Covid-19 hasn't left.
Denial won't save us from long-term disability and unless you have plans to provide and care for yourself should you get Long Covid, please, for your sake at least, keep your mask on.
*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.