Don’t let our guard down against Omicron, stick to the game plan

The past few days have been chilly. The sun seems to be comfortable hiding behind the clouds, and plans to get the laundry done have not gone past the ‘planning’ stages.

The cool weather, however, provided a good excuse to have some bak kut teh.

So, off I went to a nearby food court to enjoy a meal that would pretty much keep me warm, albeit temporarily.

There was nothing amiss with the food court, except that no one was monitoring the status of the patrons – if they were fully vaccinated, had been in close contact with a Covid-19 patient, or if they had indeed “checked in” using the MySejahtera mobile application.

When asked about the matter, the reply was just a sheepish grin.

That particular premises wasn’t the only one guilty of such lax standards.

Other eateries were also guilty of not monitoring the people they allowed in. Some of these places did not even have temperature scanners, claiming they were either out of batteries, or simply faulty.

Others had workers wearing face masks below their chins.

The new Covid-19 variant, the Omicron, was detected in Malaysia on Nov 19. Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin stressed that the authorities had been quick to respond by isolating the individual – a 19-year-old South African student – and traced the five other people who were in close contact with the subject.

“We traced their whereabouts from their MySejahtera app. The patient didn’t go anywhere and was quarantined throughout the duration. Our personnel quickly investigated and interviewed the individuals to find out more, and the information they received was similar to their MySejahtera status,” Khairy said during his press conference on Friday.

This is why it is important for business owners and operators to monitor those they allow in. However, it should not stop there.

A mall in the heart of Kuala Lumpur had a security personnel stationed at the escalator located at the parking bays. His job was to verify the MySejahtera status of the patrons before allowing them in.

Another security personnel, located at the mall’s lobby, would then monitor the patrons’ temperatures, and ensure that they “checked in” using the QR code.

However, the massive Christmas decorations in the middle of the lobby proved to be too irresistible a draw, and people converged and jostled to pose for photos with the tree, train, and tinsel.

Crowd control was an abstract concept, and physical distancing went out the proverbial window.

This is not about being overly paranoid. It is about us taking care of each other, to ensure none of us fall victim to the coronavirus.

In recent days, health and security agencies held a series of meetings as they prepare contingencies and brace for the worst in the weeks to come.

As Khairy rightfully said, “If we follow the SOPs and all the guidelines, we can contain the spread of the Omicron. But we must continue to stick to public health interventions.”

Let’s stick to the game plan, in the hopes that we finally wake up from this long, twisted, and agonising nightmare, that is Covid-19.

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