Just take a deep breath, will you?

It is also time to take advantage of all the local holiday destinations that were previously beyond our reach

pic by TMR FILE

THE drive around Melaka was rather smooth, for a change. It was also not that difficult to get a parking spot.

Despite arriving at the restaurant, which used to be one of the hottest spots for lunch, at almost 4pm, food was still hot (and in abundance), while getting a table was not as tricky.

The daughter of the restaurant’s owner said it had been that way for the past weeks.

“Fewer Singaporeans and Chinese these days…,” she said.

The drive from that restaurant, which was very near all the main tourist attractions at Dataran Pahlawan, to Masjid Selat on the reclaimed side of the historical city, was also extremely breezy.

The mosque, which was also a favourite spot among Chinese tourists, was rather peaceful.

In the past, the mosque management would have quite a task to get errant tourists to wear correct attires before entering the mosque, which is also known as a great location for photography, particularly the wing and balcony that faces the Strait of Melaka.

Hotel room rates in Melaka have also been rather competitive lately. Most of the prices have gone down by an average of 50%.

A walk along Jonker Street, the historical city’s main attraction, was not that eventful either.

The same situation was felt in Johor Baru, once a hotspot among Singaporeans and tourists from China who would throng the malls and shopping districts. Last weekend, the usually very busy Holiday Plaza seemed rather deserted, with a lot of shops closed.

Local travellers were also spoilt for choice when they were deciding on which hotel to stay at last weekend.

All the hotels in the city had cut the rates to fill the rooms, it seemed. A random check with various booking sites showed that some hotels had slashed prices as low as 70%!

The Covid-19 threat is real. Huge events have been cancelled all over the world. Certain European countries have also banned any gathering of more than 1,000 people indefinitely.

The coronavirus-driven market sell-off had wiped out US$6 trillion (RM25.2 trillion) in value from the global markets in six days last week.

According to S&P Dow Jones Indices, US stocks lost about US$4 trillion of its value in the same period.

China, the epicentre of the outbreak, retains the bulk of the infections with more than 86,500 cases.

However, it has also since spread to 53 countries, with more than 6,500 cases and more than 100 deaths.

The majority of the deaths outside of China have come from outbreaks in recent days in South Korea, Italy and Iran.

Iran yesterday announced 11 more deaths from Covid-19, bringing its death toll to 54 — the most outside China.

The number of people infected in Italy — the centre of the outbreak in Europe — jumped to 1,694, while the number in France increased to 130 (at press time). With the outbreak deepening, the staff at the Louvre in Paris voted to close the iconic museum.

The Czech Republic, Scotland and the Dominican Republic have confirmed their first cases. Indonesia President Joko Widodo yesterday announced two confirmed cases in the republic.

Yesterday, a Malaysian former Cabinet minister who was recently exposed to a Covid-19 patient had to undergo all the necessary tests at a hospital in Serdang, Selangor.

Apparently, he had dinner with a member of UDA Holdings Bhd’s board of directors, who had since tested positive for the coronavirus.

Patient No 26, also on the board of Khazanah Nasional Bhd, who has a recent travel history to Shanghai, was among four new Covid-19 cases recorded in Malaysia by the Health Ministry. There are now 29 Covid-19 cases in Malaysia.

The government announced a RM20 billion stimulus last Thursday to cushion the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Singapore did the same earlier with a stimulus package of some US$4.6 billion, while Indonesia unveiled a package of around US$742 million.

So, what do we do before a definite cure could be found?

Perhaps it’s time for us to take a deep breath, reflect and visualise all the positive things that could make our lives even more meaningful.

Perhaps, it is also time to take advantage of all the local holiday destinations (and accommodations) that were previously beyond our reach.

Or you can just take these simple steps — wash your hands with soap regularly and stay sanitised. No, stocking up on toilet papers might not be the answer…

Zainal Alam Kadir is the executive editor of The Malaysian Reserve.