Datuk Seri Dr Noor Hisham was calm and collected minutes before he addressed the Press at his daily briefing.
The Health Director-General revealed it’s been long days and nights for him and his team since the first Covid-19 case in Wuhan, China.
Fast forward to today, Dr Noor Hisham admits the battle with the pandemic is not a sprint but a marathon.
And it could stretch till early next year judging by the number of cases and with the development of a vaccine unlikely in the very near term.
Nevertheless, many would want to know what lies ahead once the Movement Control Order (MCO) ends on April 14, or a date beyond if the order is extended.
Brace for drastic changes, that’s for sure.
April 15 is a Wednesday. Don’t expect offices and schools to be filled with people as many are stuck in their hometowns and may not be able to come back in time.
Highways will be clogged with motorists rushing back to uncertainty.
Restaurant and stall operators are mindful that they won’t have patrons dining at their shops for weeks or even months. It may take some time for people to shed the fear of eating out like they used to.
Say goodbye to your lunch and tea dates with your colleagues or your nights out at your favourite mamak shop or watering hole.
Visits to the spa, shopping malls, exhibitions and parks will be reduced.
Physical distancing will be a norm as a means of being comfortable in public. It probably won’t be a great time to be in the dating scene.
In fact, the fear is so real that many may think twice before reaching out to an injured motorcyclist or someone who has a nasty fall.
Will there be assemblies or sports day in schools? Online learning in public schools will need to be fine-tuned to ensure teachers and students are well-prepared if the need to teach and learn remotely arise.
Then again, we must remember that not everyone has a computer or smart phone at home, especially those in the B40 group. And what if they have three or four children? How are they going to cope even if they do have a computer?
What if online learning is not feasible because of the above situations? Parents may not be comfortable with what had always been taken for granted like having 40 students in a classroom. How do they tell their children to practise physical distancing when even adults have shown disregard for such rules in these trying times. There are just too many uncertainties.
It will be the same in the sporting world. No handshakes, no hugs in an empty venue. Just greetings between opposing athletes from afar, cheers and jeers by fans online.
Transportation is another big issue as it involves the masses. What used to be a simple LRT or bus trip to the city or to work may not be so anymore. Crowded trains or buses with people standing shoulder to shoulder won’t be “just one of those things”. Even taking a cab may not seem a good idea to some.
Wearing masks, gloves while blasting 8D music on your headphones will be the fashion and lifestyle statements of 2020. A hand santiser will be an essential in handbags or pockets.
Are we being hypochondriacs? Maybe, but then the fear is real.
Some will be out of jobs. Others will find opportunities in such trying times to see their business grow. One thing for sure, working remotely will be an in thing for many offices. It’s safer, cost-effective and some avow it’s more productive.
Weddings and gatherings will be muted affairs with only a handful of people showing up. Those who do come will cheer from afar.
Visits to the elders will be limited, and from a distance. This is a good time to get them hooked on video conferencing and to explore the wonders of the Internet in their own homes.
It will be an electronically driven Vaisakhi, Tamil New Year, Wesak Day, Hari Raya and even Hari Gawai this time around.
The sights, smells and sounds of the Ramadan or Gawai bazaars or buffet lines at hotels will be sorely missed. But then more of your favourite dishes will be available online – provided if the likes of Makcik Kiah start promoting goreng pisang and other food on Instragram or Facebook.
Our porous borders are a concern as we will continue to see a flood of illegal migrants and they are always the last to seek medical help for fear of persecution. Many of them are in the service industry, serving your favourite Nasi Padang, washing your car or making that tasty roti canai.
A life-changing attitude is needed to kill Covid-19. As Dr Noor Hisham said, this is going to be one long global war. It seems all gloom but with determination and sacrifice, we will overcome this travesty.
April 15 will be a game-changer. Are you ready to live life differently?