“Eh, why you believe China’s numbers? They are lying lah.”
That was the general response when Malaysia’s Covid-19 cases surpassed those of China yesterday.
But this is not about how “accurate” China’s numbers are.
Some have claimed Malaysia’s numbers are also not a true reflection, and that the numbers have always been high, but were unreported. It would be worrying if that was the case, but I don’t believe it is so.
We knew we were going to have more cases than China for more than a week, but rewind to Sept 15 and no one would have thought it was possible.
At that time, China had a staggering 85,202 cases – but about 88 per cent of those came in the first two months of the year.
Malaysia only had 9,969 cases before reaching the five-figure mark the following day with 62 cases.
Since then, it has just got worse and worse. As of yesterday, our total cases stood at 87,913 with 429 deaths.
China, meanwhile, has 86,770 but 4,634 deaths. It has the coronavirus under control – and no, that’s not a joke to imply that they do “control” the virus – as some conspiracy theorists believe.
Where did we go wrong? How did we go from under 10,000 cases in the first six months of the pandemic to closing in on 10 times that in less than three months?
It is easy to blame the politicians – they ought to be rightly called out for their blatant double standards and disregard for the way they have made their decisions as well as holding state elections in Sabah.
That decision did speed up the number of infections as some of those who travelled back from Sabah did spread the disease … but that’s only a small part of the reason.
We should also look at the greedy entrepreneurs who treat their workers – especially the migrants – horribly by sticking truckloads of them in small dormitories.
These cramped living spaces are breeding grounds for the coronavirus. It comes as no surprise as more and more clusters are found at construction sites and factories.
More importantly, we should also look at ourselves.
There is no point in pointing fingers at others if we don’t observe the standard operating procedures (SOPs).
Yes, the SOPs have been inconsistent – whether on the opening hours of businesses, how many from a family can dine together, how many can sit in a car to the crossing of state and district borders to where and when you must check in via the MySejahtera app at petrol stations.
Even the simple and straightforward SOP of wearing a mask – do you wear it all times when in public spaces or only in crowded places – has confused some people.
A politician didn’t use one when meeting and handing out goodies to some folks and was lauded by a fellow politician.
So yes, SOPs are confusing but many have gone back to “life as normal” and dismiss Covid-19 as something which happens to “other people”.
I’ve seen friends greet each other at supermarkets and restaurants by hugging or shaking hands – followed by “eh, long time no see” – when we have been told not to have physical contact.
We moaned and groaned when there was a strict lockdown and then flooded the highways the first weekend borders were opened.
Many were frustrated with being cooped up at home but was it a great idea to have flocked to holiday destinations?
Perhaps I’m being too cautious but until and unless the number of new cases goes down, I’ll try to limit my interaction with ‘outsiders’.