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COMMENT | Covid-19: Wake up, enough talk, take action

COMMENT | This is an open letter to the prime minister. As I write this – there are 400 Covid-19 positive patients in Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Sabah’s tertiary referral hospital in Kota Kinabalu, including the chief minister of Sabah. 

All non-Covid-19 patients who do not have life-threatening illnesses are being turned away to channel all resources towards Covid-19. Even normal routine lab tests have been cut down to enable more testing for Covid-19.

Healthcare workers are tired and stretched thin. Resources such as personal protective equipment (PPE) and other vital equipment are running low. Staff are being called to cover other departments as many of them are being quarantined.

The many months of hard work since the first movement control order (MCO) has been taken for granted and thrown away! We have hit a record-breaking daily case number of 691 on Oct 6.

There are currently 3,439 positive cases in Malaysia, out of which 1,901 (55 percent) – more than half are from Sabah.

From Sept 1 to Oct 10, Sabah has had 3,423 cases – this is a shocking 22 percent of the 15,096 cases Malaysia has had from the beginning! There have been 21 deaths which is 13.5 percent of the total of 152 deaths so far.

Wake up dear Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin – you are a self-proclaimed “abah” (father) that wishes to “rotan” (cane) his rakyat for misbehaving and not following standard operating procedure (SOP). You fail to realise that the saddening facts of this Covid-19 wave listed down above are not due to Covid-19, but rather the failure of your administration to prioritise the health of the rakyat above all else.

By ignoring advice from the Health Ministry and allowing the state election to carry on with unrestrained campaigning by over-enthusiastic machinery (on both sides of the fence) – this has led to the suffering of many today. The fact that the chief minister himself has been infected shows the extent of the spread of the virus.

Ministers and many other top officials who did not follow SOP and were let off the hook are the real cause of the sudden surge of cases. The delay in lockdown has just deepened the already bleeding wound.

Wake up and see that most would not consider you “abah” – you have allowed your “children” to suffer by causing another wave of this pandemic and compounded it by practising favouritism through the selective punishment of those who do not adhere to SOP.

Haul up the VIPs that have been the cause of this wave and remove them from office. They have brought more suffering to the very people that elected them to power. This is an abuse of the trust and mandate given to them. The deaths that have occurred due to this fresh wave is directly related to all of them and they must take responsibility!

Enough talk.

Spare us your analogies and official addresses and take swift action. We are tired of long-winded speeches that have no tangible content besides being used for Internet memes and social media jokes. The amount of time and resources that your “perutusan khas” (special announcement) uses can be channelled to the Health Ministry for greater use.

Take real action.

Realise the mistake and failures and correct it promptly. Channel resources to Sabah immediately. The Sabah chief minister is warded at Queen Elizabeth Hospital but like all VIPs, never had to lie in the Emergency Department waiting for a bed in the ward.

There is a lack of empathy and real action from the top administration of the country, resulting in ignorance towards the true situation on the ground.

Supply adequate PPE to last till the end of the year – many centres in Sabah will run out of PPE soon and we will see the all-too-familiar situation of makeshift PPE if this is not done.

A centralised coordinated PPE distribution system needs to replace the current one which is slow and not transparent.

Covid-19 allowances for healthcare workers at the frontlines should be given out during this period and not months after. Many sacrifices are being made, parents with newborn babies are forced to work; annual leave has been frozen; many are working overtime with reduced sleep and rest.

Instruct the private sector to help in the management of Covid-19 cases and reimburse them with the necessary funds. Use emergency funds if you have to – should the suffering of your “children” not move your heart, “abah”?

The defence minister has announced that weddings of more than 250 people are allowed by displaying the wedding invitation card. This is completely ridiculous and foolish.

What is the point of having MCO while still allowing such gatherings? Please use some common sense while implementing SOPs – listen to the advice of the Health Ministry rather than pushing them around and persuading them to do otherwise.

Don’t give up.

To the rakyat – whether in Sabah or not, I urge you to be as stringent as you can. Please do not adhere to senseless SOPs – weddings can be postponed to a later date; large gatherings should not be held until we have gained control of the situation. It is time to rise up and decide how to run the “family” as our “abah” is unable to.

Lend your support to those at the frontlines – whether in money, food, or other means of aid. Those that are blessed with more should look out for those who have less.

To those at the frontlines – please do not give up. The entire nation is behind you and supporting you, some through material help and others through prayer whenever possible.

The foolishness of certain individuals may have thrown away the efforts of the past few months and wasted all your time and energy; but Malaysia needs you even more now. May God grant you the strength, patience and perseverance throughout this time.

DR TACHDJIAN is a pseudonym. The writer is a Health Ministry specialist. 

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.