M'sians must prepare for the worst but hope for the best

Lim Kit Siang

Modified 29 Mar 2020, 3:36 am

MP SPEAKS | The Health Ministry Director-General Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah is to be commended for preparing for the worst in the Covid-19 pandemic in Malaysia as a third wave of cases could surge to 1,000 per day.

He said in light of a possible tsunami of new Covid-19 cases, it is better for the Health Ministry to overprepare than to underprepare, as being underprepared is to be unprepared.

If the government had maintained this attitude of “being prepared for the worst” throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the country would have been spared the nightmare of the second wave of the outbreak and becoming one of the top Asian countries with Covid-19 cases and deaths.

During the first wave from January 25 to Feb 26, 22 cases but no deaths were reported. Now we are in the second wave, and the latest statistics show 2,320 cases and 27 deaths – more than 10,000 percent increase for cases and from zero fatality to 27.

We must ensure that the third wave does not become a tsunami, which is what the extended movement control order (MCO), in place until April 14, is designed to prevent.

All over the world, warnings are being issued that the “worst” of the pandemic is yet to come.

The top ten countries for coronavirus cases worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker (at the time of writing), is as follows:

  • US: 116,505 cases, 1,925 deaths 
  • Italy: 92,572 cases, 10,023 deaths 
  • China: 81,999 cases, 3,299 deaths 
  • Spain: 72,248 cases, 5,812 deaths 
  • Germany: 56,202 cases, 203 deaths 
  • France: 38,105 cases, 2,317 deaths 
  • Iran: 36,408 cases, 2,517 deaths 
  • UK: 17,312 cases, 1,021 deaths 
  • Switzerland: 14,076 cases, 264 deaths 
  • Netherlands: 9,819 cases, 640 deaths

China, where the pandemic started two months ago, has won the war against the new coronavirus virus to the extent that Malaysians in China are wondering whether they should return to Malaysia for fear of catching this infectious disease.

For the past 10 days, no local cases of Covid-19 had been reported in China, and as of yesterday, almost 90 percent of the infected patients in the country had recovered. China had a total of 81,999 cases and the disease had killed some 3,300 in the country.

In the past ten days, Covid-19 cases in China, which were mostly imported ones, have increased by a daily average of some 30 cases, as compared to increase in the last 24 hours of cases for United States (19,185), Italy (5,974), Spain (7,516), Germany (6,824), France (4,611), Iran (3,076), United Kingdom (2,546), Switzerland (1,148), Netherlands (1,159), Belgium (1,850) and Turkey (1,704).

There were 47 fatalities in China in the last 10 days, compared to the fatalities in the last 24 hours of 515 deaths in the United States, 889 deaths in Italy, 844 deaths in Spain, 82 deaths in Germany, 319 deaths in France, 139 in Iran, 260 deaths in the United Kingdom, 33 deaths in Switzerland, 93 in Netherlands and 64 in Belgium.

Until a vaccine for Covid-19 is invented, which will take 12-18 months, social distancing is the only measure to slow the exponential spread of the disease as well as to deal with the dire shortage of supplies and diagnostic capacity of the health care system to deal with surges of cases.

It is important and imperative that there should be a greater effort to explain the rationale of social distancing to all Malaysians as the success of this measure will depend on the degree of national unity and support for it. 

This is where an emergency meeting of Parliament on Covid 19 will be useful, not only in approving the stimulus package announced by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Friday, but to demonstrate full support and solidarity of all Malaysians transcending race, religion, region or politics for the spate of anti-Covid-19 measures, including social distancing.

The energy and efforts of all elected representatives, regardless of party politics, must be harnessed to win the war against Covid-19 and to restart the economic engine of Malaysia in the shortest possible time.

Malaysians must be prepared for the worst but hope and unite for the best.

Let us prove wrong the worst prognosis of global investment bank JP Morgan that Covid-19 would peak at 6,300 cases in mid-April or that of the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (Mier) that Covid-19 would peak at 8,900 cases.

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.

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