05/10/2021
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The war is not yet won

Sin Chew Daily

On Sunday, the number of new COVID-19 cases fell to four digits (9,066) for the first time since July 13. Finally Malaysians could see an encouraging turning point after 83 consecutive days of 5-digit daily increases.

And on Monday, the new infection number slipped further to 8,075, but does that mean we are on a convincing downtrend from this moment on?

Time will tell!

When the Delta variant has become the primary transmission medium of the global pandemic, being fully vaccinated does not mean we are fully shielded from the virus.

Take Singapore for instance, the island republic has administered 9.43 million doses and is among the first countries in the world to have reached 90% of its adult population fully vaccinated.

Unfortunately, due to the recent relaxation of anti-virus rules, the country has seen a dramatic spike in new cases of late, with new record highs being made for several days in a row.

Singapore’s experience should sound an alarm bell for premature full opening.

Although the situation here in Malaysia is rather encouraging, we should still exercise some caution. There should be no letdown in our effort to fight the virus.

Malaysia is prepared to allow interstate travels nationwide after 90% of our adult population is fully vaccinated. Prime minister Ismail Sabri has even said that all economic sectors would be fully opened up in December or earlier, along with national borders so that Malaysians can travel overseas freely while foreigners will be able to visit the country.

At the same time, the immigration department’s My Travel Pass platform will also be abolished as permits will no longer be needed then, even though mandatory quarantine will still be in force.

The full reopening of economic sectors and the national borders does not mean the pandemic is already under control. It is just an expedient measure which we must adopt to keep the economy going.

We cannot afford to permanently ban economic and travel activities and therefore must start reopening once the 90% vaccination threshold is reached. This is almost a universal practice worldwide.

Next, we will enter a new phase of “living with the virus”. COVID-19 will then become an endemic. Even the world’s top epidemiologists no longer look forward to complete disappearance of the virus.

Reopening the state and international borders as well as economic sectors has been a government strategy to be implemented at different phases in the country’s war against the virus.

As for ordinarily citizens like us, we must continue to adhere to all the anti-virus protocols, get vaccinated and constantly protect ourselves against the virus. Both the government and the people must do their utmost in order for us to live with the virus.

Health minister Khairy Jamaluddin has said that so far we have administered in excess of 44 million doses of the vaccine with 87.2% of adult population fully vaccinated while vaccination program for youths is being executed smoothly. Next, the government’s priority will be the administration of a third booster dose for senior citizens and the vulnerable communities in a bid to reduce the mortality rate.

The minister says Malaysians should continue to comply with the SOPs, use self-help test kits for screening purposes and go on home quarantine if found to have been infected so as to minimize the transmission of the virus.

Now that we have managed to attain some success in our battle against the virus, the next potential factors that will determine how well the situation is under control will be the Delta variant as the new transmission medium, school reopening nationwide and vaccination for illegal migrant workers.

The government will need to overcome all these barriers in order to win the war eventually.

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