MARCH 20 — Global news about the Covid-19 pandemic continues to be bleak and ominous.
Italy passed a grim milestone yesterday when its deaths linked to the virus soared to 3,405, exceeding the toll of 3,248 deaths in China, where the virus first broke out.
Cemeteries in the northern city of Bergamo were so overwhelmed that troops were called in to transport bodies elsewhere to be cremated. The army sent 120 doctors and health professionals to help in Bergamo and nearby Lodi, while field hospitals and emergency respiratory units were being set up elsewhere in the north.
The spread of the virus in Italy had been swift and terrifying, even after the country imposed strict limits on people’s movements. As the death toll rose, traditional funeral services were outlawed as part of the national restrictions against gatherings.
The country tallied 902 deaths in the last two days alone: 475 Wednesday and 427 on Thursday. Most who died had serious pre-existing conditions. Italy now has 41,035 coronavirus cases.
In the United States, the Governor of California, Gavin Newsom ordered California’s almost 40 million residents to stay home except for essential trips, after 1,040 cases of the coronavirus had been identified and 19 people had died.
Newsom earlier said the state was projecting that 56 per cent of California’s population would be infected with the virus over an eight-week period — a stunning disclosure that rippled through headlines as it would work out to 22.4 million cases. But Newsom later said he hoped that the extraordinary measures he proposed in California would stop those projections from coming to pass.
Even London is considering a lockdown over the Covid-19 pandemic, as United Kingdom joins 10 countries with the most number of Covid-19 deaths with a global death toll of 10,028 — Italy (3405), China (3,248), Iran (1,284), Spain (831), France (372), United States (200), United Kingdom (144), South Korea (94), Netherlands (76) and Germany (44).
At least, 245,049 people have been infected globally, with seven countries having exceeded 10,000 cases — China (80,967), Italy (41,035), Iran (18,407), Spain (18,077), Germany (15,320), United States (13,800) and France (10,995).
When the Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced the Movement Control Order (MCO) on Monday night, he failed to explain the seriousness of the epidemic and importance to break the chain of infection of the Covid-19 virus. Even his second live telecast two days later was not a full success either.
The nation is at war with the Covid-19 virus and the Government must communicate fully and effectively to all Malaysians — including sharing with all Malaysians the worst-case scenarios about the Covid-19 crisis.
It is important that the Prime Minister and all Ministers earn the trust and confidence of all Malaysians that they are capable and competent to wage and win this war and this is why good suggestions should be deliberated and acted upon without delay by the government.
Many good and constructive suggestions as to how to fight and win this war have been made today itself, like the following:
- Proposal by former women, family and community development minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and her former deputy Hannah Yeoh that the government provide additional allocation for frontliners who are risking their lives in the battle against Covid-19; and
- Ideas by small business owner Lee Siew Lian in an article today in the Malay Mail online entitled “Malaysians need cash injections now to survive Covid-19 economic disaster”, in particular her proposal to the Minister of Finance to reverse all the PCB and CP204 paid for the last 12 months.
* Lim Kit Siang is DAP MP for Iskandar Puteri.
** This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.