The division of the country into four coloured zones for Covid-19 infections can be used as a basis for an exit strategy for controlled easing of restrictions, but the four-colour zones should be updated daily so as not to overstate the seriousness of Covid-19 infection in the various parts of the country

Today is a special day in the devastating Covid-19 pandemic, which has spread like a raging fire worldwide, with confirmed infections totalling 1.4 million cases and has claimed the lives of some 81,695 people.

Covid-19 started in Wuhan, China in early December and it was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation on March 11, 2020.

It has affected 209 countries and territories, and in the last three months, has reached one grim milestone after another in the invisible global war against humanity

For example, it took 67 days from the first reported case to reach 100,000 cases, 11 days for second 100,000 cases, four days for the third 100,000 cases, three days for the fourth 100,000 cases, two days for the fifth 100,000 cases, one day for the sixth 100,000, two days for the seventh 100,000, a day each for the eighth and ninth (million) 100,000 cases. It takes two day to reach the tenth 100,000 cases, one day each to reach the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth 100,000 cases. Total global confirmed cases now stand at 1,421,665!

Although the Covid-19 pandemic started in Asia, North America will overtake Europe in the number of cases in a matter days Both regions have exceeded 400,000 cases each, while Asia has chalked less than 125,000 cases, with China totalling 81,7490 cases.

The Covid-19 pandemic seems to be stabilising in the three European countries of Italy, Spain, France which had experienced nightmares with daily Covid-19 cases increasing from more than a thousand cases to over nine thousand cases and daily Covid-19 deaths increasing from three to four-digit figures. The full ravages of Covid-19 have moved on to the United Kingdom, (whose Prime Minister Boris Johnson is in ICU over Covid-19) and the United States, whose President is talking about 100,000 to 200,000 deaths from the pandemic, although two weeks ago he was talking about America getting back to business and returning to normal by Easter on April 12.

Latest data for the top 12 countries with most number of Covid-19 cases (which also contain the 12 top countries for Covid-19 deaths) and Malaysia is as follows:

  • United States 393,798 cases; 12,697 deaths (3.2%)
  • Spain 140,618 cases; 13,912 deaths (9.89%)
  • Italy 135,586 cases; 17,127 deaths (12.6% )
  • France 109,069 cases 10,328 deaths (9.47%)
  • Germany 107,591 cases; 2,012 deaths (1.87%)
  • China 81,740 cases; 3,331 deaths (4.07%)
  • Iran 62,589 cases; 3,872 deaths (6.2%)
  • UK 55,242 cases; 6,159 deaths (12.15%)
  • Turkey 34,109 cases; 725 deaths (2.1%)
  • Switzerland 22,253 cases; 821 deaths (3.7%)
  • Belgium 22,194 cases; 2,035 deaths (9.2%)
  • Netherlands 19,580 cases; 2,101 deaths (10.7%)
  • Malaysia 3,963 cases; 63 deaths (1.59%)

Today’s opening of Wuhan is a testimony of mankind’s grit, determination and solidarity to win the invisible global war against the novel coronavirus.

It is a lesson not only for Malaysians but to the world that the invisible global war against the novel coronavirus can be won.

The latest data on the Covid-19 in Malaysia gives encouragement to my cautious optimism that we have passed the peak of the second wave of the Covid-19 outbreak although we must be prepared for a resurgence of the virus until a vaccine in 12 – 18 months’ time or more.

This is the time that an exit strategy from the partial lockdown resulting from the movement control order (MCO) should be considered and discussed by all quarters, as the Covid- 19 pandemic is not just a health crisis but also an economic crisis with the lockdown shutting down the economic engine to give priority to save lives in the war against the virus.

This is also why an emergency meeting of Parliament, even a “virtual” one, is so urgent, imperative and should deserve first order of priority.

What is the proper exit strategy?

There is no proper answer as mankind all over the world is grappling with the problem for the first time.

Different countries have different variations for Covid-19 lockdowns, and there can be no one answer for the various shades of lockdowns in the different countries.

Malaysia must develop its own exit strategy, which must meet the purpose of ensuring that the Covid 19 virus, though not eliminated until the development of an vaccine, is sufficiently contained to allow the economic engine to restart and for lives to return to as much normalcy as possible.

The division of the country by the National Security Council and the Ministry of Health into four coloured zones for Covid-19 infections can be used as a basis for an exit strategy for controlled easing of restriction of movement, but the four-coloured zones should be updated daily so as not to overstate the seriousness of Covid-19 infection in various parts of the country

The red zone refers to areas with more than 40 positive cases; the orange zone for areas with 21 to 40 positive cases; the yellow zone for areas with one to 20 positive cases and the green zone is without any positive case.

The latest infographics on the division in the country into the four coloured zones shows Penang as having five districts - two in orange zone and three in yellow zone.

If recent Covid-19 developments had been taken into account, for instance the recoveries from the Covid-19 infection and discharge from hospitals, all the five districts in Penang would be in the yellow zone – in fact, the Seberang Perai Selatan district will be close to become a green zone with only one case of Covid-19 infection.

In the post-MCO pandemic economics, Malaysia must develop an exit strategy which can strike the proper balance on the one hand, to contain but not to eradicate the Covid-19 virus until a vaccine is developed in 12 – 18 months or longer and on the other, to restart the economic engine and for Malaysian life to return to as much normalcy pre-MCO as possible.

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri