Call on Muhyiddin to focus the coming week on widest consultation to formulate the best exit strategy and blueprint to contain Covid-19, revive the economy and rebuild Malaysia

The Health Director-General Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah is right – the people must not get complacent over the falling numbers of Covid-19 infections as the multiple wars in the Covid-19 pandemic is far from over.

We may be winning the battle over the second wave of the Covid-19 outbreak in Malaysia, but the multiple war of the Covid-19 is a long and protracted one until an effective vaccine is developed in 18 to 24 months’ time.

We may win in the second wave of the Covid-19 outbreak in Malaysia, but are we prepared for the third wave? How many waves and lockdowns will there be in Malaysia before an effective vaccine is developed in 18 to 24 months’ time?

Speaking remotely at the video hearing of the United Kingdom Parliament’s Health and Social Care Select Committee last Friday, University College London Global Health Professor Anthony Costello said that the country must face up to the "harsh reality" that it did not react quickly enough to warnings about Covid-19.

He said the British government responded too slowly to the COVID-19 outbreak, and the nation could see as many as 40,000 deaths before the pandemic is over.

The leading physician and former British director at the World Health Organisation told MPs via video-link that UK could face as many as six waves of the coronavirus before an effective vaccine could be developed and widely available.

In order to avoid another large spike in fatalities once the country begins to ease its lockdown measures, he said the government must up community testing capacity and embrace South Korea-style contact tracing.

He said: "We all hope that the national lockdown and social distancing will bring about a large suppression of the epidemic; however, we are going to face further waves.

"We need to make sure we have a system in place that can not just do a certain number of tests in the laboratory.

"We also need a system at district and community level to test people rapidly in the community, in care homes, and make sure the results get back to them very quickly.

"We need to maintain social distancing of some kind when we lift the national lockdown, by focusing on the people we really want to lockdown, which are cases and contacts.

"You need to find cases, test them if you can, trace their contacts, isolate them, do social distancing - but most importantly of all you do it all at speed."

He said it was likely that the most vulnerable people in the country would have to remain in some form of lockdown until there is a vaccine.

"We have to get the economy going and if it means locking down 10% of our population, even giving them incentives to stay in quarantine and with digital apps to help monitor their symptoms and give them support, that's the way to really keep this going until we get a vaccine and safe herd immunity," he added.

We must learn from the grave mistakes of United Kingdom and the United States, which have now led them to become the two leading epicentres of the Covid-19 pandemic, with both leading the nations in the world in both the daily increase in Covid-19 infections and deaths.

Worldwide, total Covid-19 confirmed cases stand at 2,324,731 and the global death toll is 160,434.

United States has a total of 736,790 Covid-19 confirmed case leading the world in an increase of 27,055 confirmed cases and an increase of 1,766 deaths to reach a total death toll of 38,920 in the last 24 hours, with United Kingdom coming second with a daily increase of 5,525 cases to total 114,271 Covid-19 confirmed cases and increase of 888 deaths to a total death toll of 15,464 deaths.

But we must learn the good lessons even from the United States and the United Kingdom – and one of the good lessons and best practices of the global Covid-19 pandemic is the continued scrutiny of the UK House of Commons and its Select Committees to ensure that the most effective strategy to overcome the Covid-19 pandemic and the best exit plan for the economic recovery of United Kingdom are adopted.

When will Malaysia’s experts in public health testify before the Malaysian Parliament, even in virtual proceedings, to find the best way to win the war against Covid-19 as well as the best exit strategy for the country?

The Ministers do not seem to know that the era when the government knows best is over.

Officials and experts all over the world are looking ahead at the end of the lockdowns.

But the government does not seem to have a blueprint for the best exit plan for Malaysia to contain Covid-19, revive the economy and rebuild Malaysia, which is why the Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has not responded to my call for a live telecast to share with Malaysians the details of such an exit plan.

This mentality is probably the cause of the shocking idea of a one-day Parliament on May 18 to emasculate and marginalise Parliament’s role in the invisible war against Covid-19.

Instead of a flexible, creative and nimble approach to face the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, we only see the ham-fisted way the Health Minister had tried to get back into the limelight in the war against Covid-19 after his disastrous “warm water” outing, making no contribution whatsoever for the best exit strategy for Malaysia.

I wonder how a person could restore his claim as one of the whiz kids of the new administration and burnish his reputation by roping support from a political leader who created history with the most number of criminal charges related to corruption?

The journey post-Covid-19 pandemic is no-man’s land as it is unchartered territory. It will be a journey of trial-and-errors but we must ensure that it is a journey of smart trial-and-errors, learning from the successes and failures of other countries, in particular China, South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, United States, United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia in the same journey.

In the United Kingdom, Cambridge University scientists have compiled a list of 275 changes to day-to-day life that could help reduce coronavirus transmissions after lockdowns end.

Has the government considered these proposals?

In the absence of the best exit plan strategy and blueprint for Malaysia, I would urge Muhyiddin to instruct the National Security Council Covid-19 Task Force and his Cabinet to focus the coming week on formulating the exit plan strategy and blueprint, conduct the widest consultation with the civil society and various sectors of the economy, and to present the strategy and blueprint to Parliament for adoption and implementation.

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri