1:52pm 24/05/2021
Concerted effort needed to defeat the virus

Sin Chew Daily

Due to the increasing severity of the coronavirus outbreak in the country, there were talks the government would enforce a full MCO last week.

May 21, MKN had a meeting on this issue and the country geared itself for a possible lockdown. However, the prime minister's office issued a statement that evening, saying the government would introduce stricter SOPs to limit economic and social activities while senior minister Ismail Sabri would announce the details the following day.

This means the government was not going to impose a complete lockdown. Anyway, it was generally believed that the government would remarkably tighten the SOPs. Indeed, Ismail Sabri did announce some tightening of SOPs later, albeit a less drastic one.

The tightened SOPs announced by the senior minister actually summed up the government's two restrictive strategies: to increase the number of WFH people (80% public sector and 40% private sector), and shortening the operating hours of businesses from 8 to 8.

Judging from any angle, this doesn't look "significant tightening of SOPs" in any way, and is at best a "minor adjustment" to existing MCO 3.0.

MCO 3.0 has come under tremendous public backlash since its implementation. It has been overly lax for a country that is experiencing a very severe outbreak and will never be effective in containing the spread of the virus.

New record highs have been registered in Malaysia in recent days and daily new infection numbers have been hovering above the 6k mark for almost a week now, reaching an all-time high of 6,976 on Sunday, just a shade shy of the 7k barrier.

In the meantime, the country's healthcare system is on the brink of collapse, putting tremendous pressure on our medical frontliners.

All this illustrates the point that the situation now is extremely serious and challenging that we have no choice but to introduce the toughest controls possible.

We are sure the government has visualized the severity of the situation, hence the "tightened" SOPs. Nevertheless, with the virus looming over us and new threats from the more infective variants, such minor adjustments will not do much to bring the virus under control.

Perhaps the government is worried about possible economic fallout, given the fact another lockdown is poised to deal a severe blow on the local market.

That being said, the government should realize that such tiny "micro adjustments" will not turn the tide. Even if the government is reluctant to lock down the country, at least there must be significant tightening of the SOPs so as to keep the virus at bay.

MCO 3.0 after the "micro adjustments" remains MCO 3.0 that will not help much to contain the spread of the virus. We cannot expect very different results from doing the same things!

Additionally, the government should make gradual improvements more than a year battling the virus. It should have more professionally made its decisions and announcements, not like what it is doing now: issuing a statement today and leaving the details for a second or even third statement or press conference.

In the meantime, members of the public must remain constantly alert and dutifully adhere to all the SOPs with the hope the curve can be flattened after 14 days!



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