Kota Kinabalu needs help in Covid-19 battle

Worker santising street in Kota Kinabalu

The third Covid-19 wave and Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) have brought Kota Kinabalu to its knees with local businesses, economies, health resources and people severely affected.

Looking at the realities on the ground, many businesses are either shuttered or have seen a significant drop in customers. This is especially so in the central business districts previously populated by office workers and tourists.

Shops that were never available for rent in Gaya Street for example, the most prized location in the state capital, now have multiple ‘For Rent’ signs.

Major hotels look like ghost buildings and the famous Filipino market is closed. Only a few vendors with their mobile cart of fruits outside the market are desperately trying to earn the few ringgit to put food on the table.

Even beggars, unseen before in suburbs, are now scavenging for scraps at rubbish bins.

The most common sight on the road these days, other than those commuting to their workplace or buying essentials, are delivery men and women on their motorcycles. Never seen before but now increasingly common is the sight of these delivery riders on bicycles instead of motorcycles.

This shows the desperation in the face of the pandemic with many trying to earn a living in any way they can.

The community spread of Covid-19 is staggering that even with the first or second wave, the locals’ personal experience with the coronavirus was limited. Now it seems quite common for residents to either have personal experience or know someone who is quarantined, hospitalised or infected.

Despite the calm picture outside the hospitals in Sabah, the wards are overcrowded, healthcare workers are working non-stop and many possibly in dire need of more relief and assistance. Critical equipment and other medical supplies are quickly being depleted.

All these are being reflected as the Health Ministry relocates personnel, both within and outside the state, to areas in need. Cargoes of test kits and other essentials are being flown into the state capital for further distribution.

Many public and non-governmental organisations are leading donation drives for Covid-19 relief as they try their best to help in whichever way they can. Some sponsor personal protective equipment (PPE) and even meals to hospitals.

Women, children, marginalised communities and undocumented individuals are the most affected. The loss of their meagre household incomes and inability to obtain daily needs have placed many families in financial and emotional turmoil.

Even a pregnancy, for example, which is supposed to be a blessing is now seen as “devastating news” due to their economic and pandemic concerns.

So what can we all do for Kota Kinabalu and Sabah?

Expanding on the current response, any form of assistance should not be confined to just the Health Ministry alone. The whole government machinery can play a part, among others, in dispensing emergency funding, inter-ministry provision of human resources, transporting of manpower and equipment, and enhancing communications channels and public messaging in the state.

Society’s approach can involve more than recruitment of volunteers. It is key to engage public and civil societies that are transparent and accountable.

Above all, the coordination and integration of the multiple agencies, civil societies and members of the public will determine how successful we are in overcoming the pandemic.

It’s not a particular city or state problem only but a pandemic concerning the whole nation.

It is high time for leaders, elected officials, key opinion leaders and those with influence to step up.

Only by fighting with a unified vision and sticking together can we make the impossible possible by ending this siege.

This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.

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