Complacency towards SOPs exacerbates virus spread

by NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK / pic by TMR FILE

ADHERENCE to all standard operating procedures (SOPs) throughout the Movement Control Order (MCO) 2.0 needs to be amped up to curb the Covid-19 spread, which is now pushing towards the critical stage.

Malaysian Public Health Physicians Association president Datuk Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar said Malaysians from all walks of life seem to be complacent with the SOPs in recent times.

“They either do not wear a mask, do not stick to physical distancing regulations or only follow the SOPs when enforcement officers are nearby,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur Internal Medicine specialist Dr Helmy Haja Mydin said both leaders and the general public should contribute to better adherence to the SOPs that have been laid out to break the line of Covid-19 transmissions in the country.

“The degree of MCO, including the scale and duration, should be determined by the extent of the disease.

“But MCOs are there to buy time and provide breathing space, they are not an end in themselves,” he told TMR.

Dr Helmy said while Malaysians are expected to start receiving the vaccine during the first quarter of this year, the inoculation exercise itself is not a panacea.

He said vaccines are there merely to reduce the numbers and help protect the majority, but it will not completely extinguish the virus.

“There is a chance the pandemic may become endemic, whereby the disease has intermittent and limited outbreaks, like measles,” he said.

He added that there is a possibility repeated vaccinations are required due to the development of new strains, though it is uncertain.

“But all the above points to the need to remain vigilant and continue our public health measures,” he said.

Meanwhile, Osel Group chief clinical and innovative scientist Dr Kris See said MCO 2.0 is not only due to the lackadaisical attitude or complacency of Malaysians.

“The increasing number of local infected cases is a reflection that we are still not getting to the root of the problem.

“While most countries over the world are ramping up testing and modalities of testing, we find ourselves reducing testing frequency and using rapid test polymerase chain reaction instead of focusing more on rapid antigen testing, which is faster, cheaper and better in screening mass communities,” he said.

He added that one of the earlier successes in combating Covid-19 was due to a speedy detection and isolation of infected cases so that clusters do not form.

“Government authorities should eagerly engage private practitioners, promote public-private partnership, be coherent in SOPs and be willing to use all tools on hands to fight the pandemic.

“In this crisis, it is time we stop thinking of a system that is either for you or me, instead we must engage on for you and me,” he said.

Dr See said many countries have started their vaccination rollout and Malaysians should remain optimistic.

He said even with the vaccines and vaccinated populations, Malaysians should not easily expect some kind of normalcy soon.

“Covid-19 would be here to stay. Until and unless we get a step ahead of the virus and manage to get a zero local transmission rate, our policies should still remain cautious.

“Until then, all of us have a role to play in curbing this virus, let us continue to take care of one another,” he said.