Call on all Malaysians to unite as one people to fight and win the war against Covid-19 virus - undoubtedly the greatest test for Malaysian national unity in six decades

All Malaysians, regardless of race, religion , region, politics or socio-economic status, must unite as one people to fight and win the war against the Covid-19 virus, undoubtedly the greatest test for Malaysian national unity in six decades.

With 15 medical frontliners infected with Covid-19, one of whom is in intensive care unit (ICU), more than 200 of their colleagues – doctors, nurses and pharmacists – have made a very powerful, moving and poignant plea to the Malaysian people to play their part in beating the virus.

In Facebook group “Pleas from Medical Practitioners”, they pleaded that the rakyat to stay home, wash their hands and observe social or physical distancing.

As Obstetrician and Gynaecologist Dr. Siti Rohayu Kamarul Baharain said: “We are all wanting to serve our patients the best that we can. We also want to sustain ourselves as long as we can. And, we want to be there for those who count on us”.

Hospital Sultan Abdul Halim specialist Dr. Aznita Ibrahim urged the public to be honest and spare a thought for the wellbeing of healthcare practitioners.

“I am a medical practitioner. I am also a wife and mother to four young children. I am a daughter to my elderly mother. We care a lot about you. Please care about us too.”

They reiterated the need for the people to stop travelling during the movement control order to break the chain of infection.

As Dr Gee Teak Sheng, a consultant neurosurgeon from Pantai Hospital, Penang put it aptly when he shared a photo of him holding a paper with "I Stay At Work for You, You Stay at Home for Us" written on it, with the added hashtags #StayHome and #DudukRumah.

There is all-round and legitimate worry that the healthcare system may be overwhelmed beyond it resources, when Covid-19 epidemic in Malaysia reaches its peak in the next few weeks - a view which had also been expressed by Professor Benjamin Cowling from WHO Collaborating Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Control, School of Public Health, University of Hong Kong.

When it was announced yesterday that Malaysia has 130 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the overall number of confirmed cases to 1,030, it was reported that following a three-digit increase for six consecutive days, Malaysia now has the fourth-highest number of Covid-19 infections in Asia – after China (81,008), Iran (19,644) and South Korea (8,652).

Actually, what should be of great concern is that Malaysia is now the second country in Asia with the highest daily Covid-19 infections – with Iran at the top with 1,237 new cases yesterday, Malaysia second with 130 cases, Japan 60, Indonesia 60, India 52, Thailand 50, Hong Kong 48, China 41, Singapore 40, Pakistan 37, Taiwan 27, Philippines 13, Sri Lanka 13, Vietnam. Brunei 5, Cambodia 4 and South Korea 0.

As of yesterday, the global death toll has reached 10,296 or an increase of 268 cases. The Covid-19 outbreak has reached another seven countries yesterday, affecting 185 countries and territories, 77 of which have reported fatalities. The total number infected globally increased by 29,806 to reach 274,855 cases.

Malaysia must go on a war footing to fight the Covid-19 epidemic, uniting all Malaysians in the effort, and there is no time for jokers to take charge of the national war effort against Covid-19 virus.

For this reason, the debunking by UK-based Malaysian surgeon Dr. Amalina Bakri of the Health Minister’s advice to drink warm water as a means to prevent Covid-19 infection is most commendable as it is not evidence-based.

Furthermore, the myth had also been debunked by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

This is time for greater professionalism, competence and seriousness to unite Malaysians in the war effort against the Covid-19 virus.

If there is a request by the Government for the former Health Minister, Dzulkefly Ahmad to return to do national service to spearhead the war against Covid-19 virus, I am sure the Pakatan Harapan Presidential Council will give it positive consideration.

But Malaysians uniting to fight the war against the Covid-19 virus does not mean a military take-over.

What is important is to focus on boosting our medical facilities with more beds to handle those infected, all necessary equipment and medication, as well as more human power, giving priority to provide protection to the frontline medical personnel.

The Armed Forces have a range of capabilities with its medical corps, engineering corps, CBRNe (chemical, biological, radioactive and nuclear explosive) units which should be tapped in the war effort against the Covid-19 virus.

These professional services like preparing extra beds and ward areas in military hospitals to supplement public hospital capacities, mobilisation to build temporary structures for emergency use and for disinfection efforts should be deployed but not deployment for patrolling purposes.

China constructed a hospital in Wuhan with 1,000-beds, several isolation wards and 30 intensive care units (ICUs) in ten days. Can we emulate this?

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri