Malaysia must learn from the lessons of South Korea, China, United Kingdom and Italy and convene an emergency meeting of Parliament to craft a “whatever it takes” strategy to flatten both the epidemiological and recession curves of the Covid-19 pandemic
Not a day passes without a new grim milestone in the invisible global war against Covid-19.
In the last 24 hours, the global acceleration of Covid-19 cases at an exponential rate of raged on unabated. 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, and one day for the sixth 100,000 cases.
The global confirmed Covid-19 cases now stand at 721,412 with 33,956 deaths and 151,004 recoveries. Twenty-four hours before that, it was 662,751 cases.
The global total for active infections is now 536,452.
The top ten countries for number of coronavirus cases worldwide, according to tracker site, https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/, is as follows:
- US:139,904 cases, 2,449 deaths
- Italy: 97,689 cases, 10,779 deaths
- China: 81,439 cases, 3,300 deaths
- Spain: 80,031 cases, 6,802 deaths
- Germany: 62,095 cases, 525 deaths
- France: 40,174 cases, 2,606 deaths
- Iran: 38,309 cases, 2,640 deaths
- UK: 19,522 cases, 1,228 deaths
- Switzerland: 14,829 cases, 300 deaths
- Netherlands: 10,864 cases, 771 deaths
Locally, Malaysia yesterday reached new heights in the Covid-19 pandemic with an increase of 150 cases to reach a total tally of 2,470 cases, and an increase of eight deaths to reach a total fatality of 35.
There had been further heart-wrenching developments in the past 24 hours.
More and more parts of the world are being locked down as a result of the exponential spread of Covid-19. Nigeria’s capital Lagos and the city of Abuja are being locked down, Moscow will be locked down from tomorrow confining the city’s nearly 12 million people to their homes while Italy will extend its month-long lockdown beyond 3rd April.
In the United Kingdom, the government has warned that a “normal way of living” may not return for more than six months, while intensive care for coronavirus patients is now being limited to those “reasonably certain” to survive.
Of great concern is the high percentage of medical personnel and frontliners infected with the coronavirus. In Spain, it was estimated last week that nearly 14% of the confirmed coronavirus cases, or some 5,400, were medical professionals.
The problem is particularly widespread in Europe, as a week ago, it was reported that more than 30 health care professionals had died of the coronavirus, and thousands of others have had to self-isolate, in Italy, France and Spain.
But the most heart-wrenching development of all was the report emanating from United Kingdom government that United Kingdom would do well if it managed to keep the Covid-19 death toll below 20,000 in the pandemic. UK’s present Covid-19 death toll is 2,606.
If the Government authorities are looking at a Covid-19 death toll below 20,000, what is the death toll the Malaysian authorities are looking at?
The RM250 billion economic stimulus package announced by the Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin last Friday has disappointed many as it does not meet a “whatever it takes” strategy.
Economist Prof Terence Gomez, for instance, has raised the pertinent question why not all government-linked companies (IGLCs) were being roped in a ”whatever it takes” strategy to reflate the economy.
Malaysia must learn from the lessons of South Korea, China, United Kingdom and Italy and convene an emergency meeting of Parliament to craft a “whatever it takes” strategy to flatten both the epidemiological and recession curves of the Covid-19 pandemic.
I have called for a “firm, creative, flexible, nimble” strategy to deal with the manifold challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, and in this spirit, I call on Muhyiddin to adopt the proposal by the civil society and NGOs allow all NGOs that have been distributing food, medicine and other aid to be allowed to continue doing so in a way that is safe and responsible, in full cooperation with the government, and in accordance with the health and safety guidelines of the government.
The government must appreciate that many vulnerable communities are affected by the Movement Control Order and are having difficulties accessing basic necessities such as food.
These communities include the B40, urban and rural poor, Malaysians who have lost their income as a result of the MCO, the elderly, the housebound, the sick, orphans, orang asli, migrant workers, refugee communities, and many, many more.
Muhyiddin should not forget that the era of “government knows best” is over.