Malaysian Government should consider measures to help businesses and workers like the UK Government plan to cover 80 per cent of workers’ pay amid the Covid-19 outbreak

The Malaysian Government should consider measures to help businesses and workers like the UK Government plan to cover 80 per cent of workers’ pay amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

The UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak pledged to do "whatever it takes" to save people’s jobs and livelihoods through the coronavirus pandemic when he unveiled an unprecedented wage boost to his COVID-19 rescue package.

He announced that the UK government would pay 80 percent of wages for employees not working, up to 2,500 pounds a month.

Sunak said the government would step in and help to pay people’s wages for the first time ever, as part of a new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, for which every employer in the country will be eligible.

It is a matter of grave concern that outside China, the Covid-19 pandemic is raging rapidly around the world, setting two new daily records in the last 24 hours with more than 30,000 new cases and over 13,000 deaths reported.

Italy, Germany, United States, Spain, France, Switzerland, United Kingdom and Iran are moving along an upward trajectory, with Italy increasing by 6,557 cases in the last 24 hours to total 53,578 confirmed cases, Spain increasing by 3,986 cases to total 25,496 cases, the United States increasing by 4,682cases to total 24,180 cases, Germany by 3,204 cases to total 22,364 cases and France increasing by 1,847 cases to total 14,459 cases.

What must greatly concern Malaysians is that Malaysia is the top 23rd country with the daily increase of 153 cases, even more than China which recorded a daily increase of 46 cases.

Malaysia is also the top 20th country with the most number of Covid-19 cases – 1,183 cases.

There is legitimate all-round concern that the Covid-19 epidemic in Malaysia has yet to reach its peak and whether Malaysia is prepared for it.

This is why all Malaysians must co-operate the break of chain of infection of the Covid-19 virus and “flatten the curve” by ensuring the success of the Movement Control Order (MCO) and staying at home until March 31.

It is shocking to see the crumbling of the healthcare system in northern Italy under the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic and how the healthworkers are sacrificing their health and even their lives in the battle to combat Covid-19. Healthworkers make up nine per cent of Italy’s Covid-19 cases.

Malaysians must do all they can to protect our frontliners in the war against Covid-19 – doctors, nurses and pharmacists handling the Covid-19 cases, clinics, Ministry of Health, police, immigration and military personnel – by complying with the MCO and telling the healthworkers the truth about whether they had been exposed to Covid-19 cases.

A report on the crumbling of the Italian healthcare system as a result of the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic describes the heart-wrenching hospital situation as “far beyond the tipping point”.

The report said:

“With 70% of ICU beds reserved for critically ill Covid-19 patients, those beds are being allocated only to those ‘with a reasonable chance to survive,’ as physicians make wrenching triage choices to try to keep alive those who have a chance.

“’Older patients are not being resuscitated and die alone without appropriate palliative care, while the family is notified over the phone, often by a well-intentioned, exhausted, and emotionally depleted physician with no prior contact.’”

In the last few days, the 40,000 medical workers from various parts of China who went to Wuhan to end the Covil-19 epidemic returned home and were given a hero and heroine’s send-off in Wuhan and welcome by their home counties.

Have Malaysians learnt from the lessons in Italy and China?

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri