Right Covid-19 messaging needed to ensure we stay vigilant

I was dumbfounded and thunderstruck when I read a recent report in an English daily quoting an expert.

The expert, an academician (geneticist) with Universiti Sains Malaysia, rationalised that the majority of the new Covid-19 cases were mild, and were not straining the healthcare system.

The sixty-four-million-dollar question I would like to ask is, “When exactly should Malaysians be alarmed and concerned? Is it when the daily new cases hit the 100,000 mark?”

I’m not sure what sort of message the expert is sending to Malaysians.

When the number of cases keeps surging on a daily basis (from 13,944 cases on Feb 8, to 17,134 cases the next day – a 22.8 per cent increase in a single day), the figures are not only worrying, but downright frightening.

Unfortunately, even Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah seems to be downplaying the surge by saying that most of the cases were mild. He also urged people to take the booster shot, as if that would keep them safe.

Wouldn’t this simply encourage those with flu-like symptoms and who had tested positive, to take it lightly and go about their business as usual?

And when the figures go through the roof, even if only a minuscule percentage ends up in ICUs or are brought in dead, then what? Scramble to salvage the situation? We are dealing with lives – it could be your loved ones.

What is conveniently forgotten is that there is a certain percentage of Malaysians who have been infected, or will be affected, but are asymptomatic. These cases go unreported.

I’m fearful of this group; you and I can fall into this group. As the number of cases surge, so too, will the number in this category.

They will go about their daily lives, and in the process, unknowingly transmit the virus to those they come in contact with. These figures are not captured in our official daily statistics.

Only when we Malaysians are concerned, alert, anxious and worried about the number of daily cases, will we – on a personal level – pull our socks up and take extra precautions to avoid getting infected.

Admittedly, there will be those who will stay vigilant against the virus and follow the SOPs diligently. But with such contradictory messaging, most will not; they will echo the assurances of experts and the Health director-general, that the spike in figures is nothing to worry about, to their detriment.

Organisations too, can play their part by postponing their physical meetings, gathering, and events.

In this regard, kudos to the Royal Selangor Club for cancelling their Chinese New Year celebrations at the very last minute to avoid a potential new cluster. Hopefully, other organisations will do the same.

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

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