COVID-19 situation in Malaysia

COVID-19 situation in Malaysia

COVID-19 is really something. This newly claimed virus has taken over the world in a few months since its first discovery in December 2019. I remember vividly when the breaking news stated that Wuhan, China was placed under quarantine during my participation on the Sakura Science Exchange Program Programme 2020 in Azabu University, Japan. After I got back home, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially soon declared COVID-19 as a global public health emergency.

Malaysia announced its first COVID-19 cases on January 25 when three China tourists entered Malaysia via Johor from Singapore on January 23, 2020. The first wave of cases was reported as the number rose to 22 by February 16. As the second wave of cases started with a number of cases of more than 1,000, the government imposed a two week of Movement Control Order (MCO) from March 18 to March 31. As of today (April 22), we are currently on our second MCO phase that will end by Apr 28.

To date, we have a total number of 5,532 cases with 93 deaths reported due to COVID-19. From this figure, around 3,452 of people recovered. On April 22, one death case was reported from a 72-year old Malaysian woman who had a history of cancer and high blood pressure. There are currently 43 patients being treated at intensive care units (ICU) with 25 of them needing ventilators.

As for the distribution of cases, a number of districts managed to sustain zero number of active cases since MCO was imposed. The MCO implementation is meant to drastically reduce the spread of the virus across Malaysia with a hope to bring down the new number of active cases. Since MCO, there has been closure on all government and private school, pre-universities, higher education institution and all government and private business premises (except for ‘essential services’ for example financial services, courier, petrol stations, hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, take-out restaurants, supermarkets, etc). There has also been restrictions for Malaysians from travelling overseas and also foreign nationals from coming into Malaysia. We are also being restricted on unnecessary movements, public gatherings including religious, sporting and social activities.

Social distancing in Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC)
Still allowed to buy food for take-away

When the MCO came into effect since March 18, Malaysians have lived in extreme uncertainty especially with the mounting economic cost due to these restrictions. The government somehow has introduced two stimulus economic packages worth RM250 billion aimed at improving the welfare of Malaysians in a form of one-off cash payments to household and individuals including discounts on utility bills and deferments of rental payment for public housing.

Personally, this pandemic has certainly changed the lifestyle of many people. When school is forced to close, the parents need to take over the teaching of their children while at the same time need to balance with their ‘work at home’ situation. Thanks to the new technologies, teachers can deliver their face-to-face classes and homework to their students through Google Classroom.

For our university, the semester has been postponed and the students are expected to come back in June 2020. Many of the students have been holed up in the university (in fact all universities across Malaysia) for the past four weeks and thankfully, no cluster was detected among the students so far. The lecturers have been suggested to consider virtual lectures and practical for all classes as COVID-19 is predicted not to be resolved until the quarter of 2021. We have also been meeting virtually to discuss things as we are trying to embrace this kind of remote working environments.

We are in a few days away to finish off the MCO and the Muslims will be celebrating Ramadhan this Friday. I personally think that we should not take things for granted and I don’t think we are ready for the MCO to be lifted. As a few of COVID-19 clusters have seen cropped up today in Negeri Sembilan and Johor due to inter-state travel by infected persons, the public should refrain from travelling as well as gathering especially during this time of the year.

In this extremely difficult reality, a return to normal life seems impossible and it has been tough weeks for many of us. We have to accept the reality that this virus may be around for quite some time and that we may see many cycles of outbreaks. However, by staying together, complying and cooperating to government rules, maintaining the safety and hygiene of ourselves and families, we could eventually overcome it however severe and traumatising it can be.

My kids with the poster they prepared for the school

Rozaihan Mansor
22 April 2020