Covid-19 signifies the importance of having a more balanced and healthy lifestyle for a stronger immune system to combat its infection
pic by RAZAK GHAZALI
RECENT messages make the Covid-19 outbreak more personal and not just a disease in a foreign setting which the World Health Organisation has characterised as a pandemic this week.
As the infection numbers topped 150 (at press time) in the country, an SMS from the Ministry of Health has advised Malaysians to wash hands regularly, cover the mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, and if you are feeling unwell, use face mask when in public and seek medical advice.
This sounded more like a lesson on basic manners you would be taught at a civic or moral class during primary school rather than a modus operandi to fight a global pandemic.
The newly-appointed Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba needs to step up and reassure the public that local healthcare system has the capacity to treat a sharp jump in infections.
He needs to ensure hospitals across the country are adequately stocked with test kits and personnel.
Faster information sharing and updates to the public on the latest developments will help calm nerves.
Media coverage will remain intense, while social media will be filled with all types of input, which necessitates a strong government response against the pandemic.
The absence of a vaccine makes the public very nervous. A WhatsApp message from a friend, whose colleague has gone into self-quarantine for the next few days after coming into contact with a person who has been confirmed positive with the infection, really hit home.
“I will be working from home and if u need to talk pls call. No home visits, thank you. Best regards to all. IT’S closer than u think!!”
A doctor friend, who is an expert in infectious diseases, has advised not to panic as Malaysia has been hit by four coronavirus strains in the past based on medical research evidence.
There would have been casualties from the past strains, but it did not cause a panic as the country back then lacked the medical tests to check and identify the strains.
The difference with this coronavirus infection is that we are bombarded with the constant flow of news on 24-hour news channels and social media which have raised the level of knowledge and fear.
As he said, the mortality rate from Covid-19 for now remains low. So don’t panic, but better stay safe than sorry.
The closure and cleaning of corporate buildings and malls in major cities, and infections in small towns across the country recently means the virus is far more widespread than it was thought to be.
In many ways, the prevalent narrative of the Covid-19 outbreak to many of us was that it was a problem mainly in China and all the infections detected here were of tourists from the mainland.
The major concern here is the potential implications to the Malaysian economy due to the weaker trade and investments as retailers in malls and other commercial buildings are experiencing a significant fall of client as the government keeps borders open in light of the Visit Malaysia 2020 programme.
But as the pandemic numbers rise daily, the next phase of the outbreak across the world could be one of human tragedy due to the deadly virus rapid spread and the absence of a vaccine.
As most of the casualties so far are the aged and those with existing health issues, the virus signifies the importance of having a more balanced and healthy lifestyle for a stronger immune system to combat this virus infection.
Bhupinder Singh is the corporate desk editor of The Malaysian Reserve.