The most important lesson of MCO is that Malaysians must learn to live with Covid-19 virus for the next 12 to 18 months or more until an effective vaccine is developed and widely available - and social distancing is the most important new normal in the post-pandemic era
Today marks the end of the four-week movement control order (MCO) and the beginning of the second extension of the MCO till April 28.
The most important lesson of the MCO is that Malaysians must learn to live with Covid-19 virus for the next 12 to 18 months or more until an effective vaccine is developed and widely available - and social distancing is the most important new normal in the post-pandemic era, not only in Malaysia but in the world, whether in economics, politics or social life.
Life in Malaysia or the world cannot return to pre-Covid-19 pandemic even after the lifting of the movement control order (MCO).
We should have been spared the second wave of the Covid-19 outbreak, as the first wave of the outbreak registered single-digit daily increases and reached a total of 22 cases from January 24 to Feb. 16.
In the ten days from Feb. 16 – 26, there was no new case of Covid-19.
We must learn the expensive lesson of our inattention and negligence which allowed the second wave of the Covid-19 outbreak to take place and caused the imposition of the MCO on 18th March.
Hopefully we have passed the peak of the second wave of the Covid-19 outbreak, as with the imposition of the MCO, we have avoided the worst prognosis made by JP Morgan and the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER).
Instead of the second wave of Covid-19 outbreak peaking about 6,300 cases in mid-April, there was no exponential surge because of the MCO and it peaked on April 3 with 3,333 cases.
Since then , the curve has plateaued with daily increases ranging from 109 to 184 cases – and in the two weeks to April 28, we hope to see the daily increases to further reduce to two-digit and even single-digit figures.
According to the Health Director-General Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah a few days ago, Malaysia’s infective rate, Covid-19 R0, was 3.55 prior to the MCO (i.e. a positive case would have an infection rate of 3.55 persons) which has been brought down to 1 and he expects the R0 will be 0.9 by April 14.
The Health Director-General and frontliners fighting the invisible war against the coronavirus must be commended for ensuring the effectiveness of the MCO in breaking the chain of Covid-19 infections, bringing Malaysia’s R0 down to 0.9 (i.e. a positive case would only have an infection rate of less than one person). We must now bring the R0 further down below 0.9.
But we must also be prepared for new waves of Covid-19 outbreak until an effective vaccine is developed in 12 – 18 month’s time or more.
In the meantime, Malaysia must constantly learn from other countries in the handling of Covid-19 pandemic in particular how to strengthen our public health infrastructure to protect our frontliners and to ramp up Covid-19 testing, tracing and treating capabilities.
On the international front, there is both good and bad news.
In the United Kingdom, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been discharged from the intensive care unit (ICU) after being treated for three days for Covid-19 but he will not immediately return to work as he has still to finish his recovery.
In a video, Johnson paid tribute to the medical workers with the National Health Service (NHS), saying: “I owe them my life”.
However, it is bleak times for the United Kingdom as total Covid-19 death toll rose above 10,000 on Easter Sunday and chalked up another 717 deaths in the past 24 hours to make UK one of the Big Five countries with total death toll exceeding 10,000 deaths. There are now seven countries which have surpassed China’s total death toll of 3,341, viz:
- United States 23,555 deaths (5.0%)
- Italy 20,465 deaths (12.8%)
- Spain 17,756 deaths (10.4%)
- France 14,967 deaths (10.9%)
- United Kingdom 11,329 deaths (12.8%)
- Iran 4,585 deaths ( 6.2%)
- Belgium 3,903 deaths (12.8%)
- China 3,341 deaths ( 4.1%)
The prospects in United Kingdom become all the bleaker with government forecast that Britain risks having the highest death toll from the novel coronavirus in Europe in the region of 30,000 deaths.
Among the 119,410 people in the world who had died with coronavirus are doctors, nurses, surgeons, care workers, healthcare assistants and porters, including doctors and nurses who came out of retirement to fight the invisible war against Covid-19.
There is growing criticism in UK against the government’s response to the pandemic from senior medics and political leaders, particularly over its failure to get enough personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing to National Health Service (NHS) and care home workers.
We must learn from the tragic lessons in UK, the United States, Italy, Spain, France and other countries to strengthen our public health infrastructure to protect our frontliners to ensure they are provided with the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) and to ramp up Covid-19 testing, tracing and treating capabilities to ensure that they do not become casualties in the invisible war against the coronavirus.
The grim milestones on the international front in the Covi-19 pandemic include:
- The global total of confirmed Covid-19 cases now stands at 1,851,573 with 114,175 deaths. It took 91 days from the first reported case to reach the first million mark, and it will take two weeks to reach the second million mark some time today. Six countries now surpass China in the total number of confirmed cases, viz:
- United States 584,862 cases
- Spain 170,099 cases
- Italy 159,516 cases
- France 136,779 cases
- Germany 129,207 cases
- United Kingdom 88,621 cases
- China 82,160 cases