MP SPEAKS | The Covid-19 is roaring away to reach its peak, both locally and globally.
In Malaysia, we have maintained a three-digit increase of confirmed Covid-19 cases for eight days to total 1,306 cases – placing Malaysia as the world's top 20th country with the most number of Covid-19 cases and the world's top 22nd country with the most number of daily increase of Covid-19 cases.
With a total of 10 Covid-19 deaths, Malaysia is placed No 25 among the world's countries in term of Covid-19 fatalities.
Malaysia wants to be a world top-class nation achieving excellence in human accomplishments but not in this fashion.
But the worst is yet to come.
Epidemiologist Dr Awang Bulgiba Awang Mahmud said that Malaysia needs to have the movement control order (MCO) for at least six consecutive weeks to bring down the Covid-19 infections to a manageable level.
According to the Health Ministry director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, Malaysia is currently moving towards the fourth phase - mitigation - for Covid-19.
The phases are listed according to the increasing severity of a particular disease outbreak, starting with the onset phase, the (early) containment phase, the late containment phase and finally, the mitigation phase.
He said: "We are moving towards phase four that is actually mitigation so it is very important for us to make sure that this is a small window of opportunity for us to break the transmission of the virus in the community."
Losing the containment war
Malaysia should not have lost the "containment" war against Covid-19, but as Noor Hisham admitted yesterday, the health authorities were not aware that a tabligh convention involving some 14,000 people was held at the Sri Petaling mosque from Feb 27 to March 1 until Brunei confirmed its first Covid-19 case attended the event.
At a press conference yesterday, Noor Hisham said the authorities began tracing and screening the attendees only after that case was confirmed.
So far, out of 14,500 local participants, the health authorities have managed to trace over 11,000 participants and have done sampling on 6,700.
Out of the total number of Covid-19 cases in the country, 62 percent are linked to the tabligh convention cluster, representing 743 out of the 1,306 cases so far.
There have so far been two waves of the Covid-19 cases in Malaysia, the first wave from January 25 to Feb. 16, when a total of 22 cases and no deaths were identified.
There were no new cases reported in the 11 days from Feb 16 – 27.
Things got out of hand however when the second wave started on Feb 28, reaching the level in the last eight days with a three-digit increase of Covid-19 cases.
For the final crucial five days from Feb 16 to 27 where no cases were reported, Malaysia's attention on the Covid-19 pandemic was distracted by the "Sheraton Move" to topple the Pakatan Harapan Government leaving Malaysia with no government.
This was why I said on Feb 28 that it was the height of irresponsibility to create a political crisis in Malaysia in the midst of a global Covid-19 crisis.
Not a time for fault finding
This is not the time for any fault-finding, but we must learn from the mistakes of the past to understand why we had lost the "containment" war against Covid-19 and what we must do to win the mitigation war against Covid-19 by uniting all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, region, politics or socio-economic background in a united collective effort in the war against Covid-19.
As the United Nations secretary-general had described it, the world is faced with an "unprecedented situation" where the normal rules no longer apply.
I fully agree with economist Muhammed Abdul Khalid that the government should not be stingy in dealing with the Covid-19 crisis as the two economic stimulus packages announced thus far is not sufficient to face the new mitigation war against Covid-19.
I agree with Muhammed that there is no point for Malaysia to want positive economic growth and a good fiscal position if the people are dead and the country in chaos.
The country's priority now is to ensure that Malaysians stay alive. This is not the time to think about the fiscal deficit, national debt, economic growth rate, credit rating agencies' perceptions or politicking.
New motto needed
For this reason, I call on the Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to immediately adopt a new government motto in the war against Covid 19 - whatever it takes to save people's jobs and livelihoods.
It is for this reason that I had suggested that the 10 million face masks from China should be given free to Malaysians after priority is given to the frontliners in the war against Covid-19.
It is in the spirit of this new motto that the government must give top priority to ensure that any form of aid to the health and medical sectors must be made without limits instead of seeing government health workers turning garbage bags into protective suits because of the shortage of supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE).
An order should go out to immediately increase the production of medical supplies and equipment that hospitals, health systems, physicians, nurses and all front line providers so desperately need.
LIM KIT SIANG is the Iskandar Puteri MP and a DAP central committee member.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.