Everything else ceases to exist

The pandemic may have taken tens of thousands of lives, but it should not rob us of who we are pre-coronavirus


WE ARE living in a very weird period. An ambulance parked in front of a condominium would stir enough buzz in Facebook like the whole building would collapse.

What’s wrong? Who did they come for? Which block, which floor? Were those paramedics wearing “hazmat suits”?

“Don’t worry, guys. It is not related to Covid-19,” someone from the condominium said in the community’s Facebook page.

“Phew! Thank God!” someone else replied.

Someone needing an ambulance has never been a good thing. But the sigh of relief that it was not related to the SARS-like pathogen reflects the deep fear it has inflicted on society.

Prior to this pandemic, seeing an ambulance picking up a patient would have us sending silent prayers for the ill or injured regardless of the situation. Today, if it is not Covid-19, then it is irrelevant.

In another scenario, a grandmother had just passed away and the news was shared among family and friends over WhatsApp.

“Oh, no! How did she get infected?”

“Um, no, she died of old age.” “Oh. Okay.”

For the large part of the society, someone’s passing due to other causes besides Covid-19 turned into a less heart-breaking loss.

These simple exchanges, without being realised by many people, are new realities and how Covid-19 has taken over our lives, and to a certain extent, changed us as human beings.

Sadly, if it is not Covid-19, it is nothing. A little cough or a slight increase in body temperature will have us panicking and immediately booking for a swab test, before first trying to treat them with cough syrup or increasing our water intake, like we always did pre-Covid-19 period.

We seem to have forgotten that there are other illnesses and health risks that need medical attention if we do not take care of ourselves, especially during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period.

For many people, the first week of “work from home” was more like “work from the kitchen”, constantly reaching for snacks which had mounted from the previous week’s mad buying.

Out of boredom, many have been inspired to create or try out new recipes, some less healthy than others.

With regular workout schedules disrupted, this new “MCO lifestyle” may keep one safe from Covid-19, but exposed to other diseases, especially diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.

The fear of getting infected by the coronavirus, if they step out of their house, has people abandoning their scheduled medical check-ups.

The Malaysian Medical Association recently advised the public to keep in touch with their family doctor, especially those with existing health issues.

While we pay tribute to the doctors and nurses on the Covid-19 frontline, there are general practitioners who are ready to make sure that non-Covid-19 illnesses are addressed.

We must do away with the mindset of “As long as I do not have Covid-19, I’m okay”, which could be deeply buried in our psyche for many months or years to come, if we centre our entire lives around the deadly protein virus. The pandemic may have taken tens of thousands of lives, but it should not rob us of who we are pre-coronavirus.

  • Farezza Hanum Rashid is the assistant news editor at The Malaysian Reserve.