August the Merdeka month and this year it is a time to practice togetherness in fighting COVID-19. But the togetherness does not reflect in the situation we are seeing right now.
For the past weeks, we have seen news of some quarantine escapees spending their own sweet, selfish time in public areas when they were supposed to stay home and prevent any potential spread of the virus. Now here's the obvious question - is staying at home scarier than getting COVID-19?
WHO said staying at home helps prevent the spread of the virus to family, friends, the wider community, and particularly those who are clinically extremely vulnerable. Both social (now called physical) distancing guidelines and staying at home aim to do the same thing: flatten the curve. The goal is to reduce the spread of coronavirus to try to keep it from overwhelming the healthcare system, which is being stretched far beyond its limits.
The Conditional Movement Control (CMCO) which was lifted on June 10 saw a massive increase in domestic travel overnight. All the main tourist points of interest (Ipoh, Langkawi, Melaka, Penang) in Malaysia were heaving with tourists going about eating, shopping, sightseeing. The National Security Council Malaysia then drew up a list of standard operating procedure (SOPs), together with the relevant ministries to rejuvenate the economy sector.
But, is it really to safe to go out?
Ask people what they think about staying at home and you will get a variety of answers.
“I’m an extrovert, I need to go out!”
“Staying at home makes me feel suffocated!”
“Staying at home is boring.”
“No more lockdown means is it OK to go out mah!”
This only shows that some of the Malaysians are still having a 3rd world mentality. Many are disobeying SOPs, they are either not looking at the seriousness of the infectious COVID-19 virus or they are just plain ignorant and selfish, thinking only about themselves. These attitudes do not play well with the situation we are facing at the moment.
Times might better now compared to the initial MCO phase in March, but the number of positive cases are rising to two-digit again. We are still uncertain when the virus will completely go away (go corona go!). We have to be responsible in joining hands (while physically distancing, so don’t take this literally) to stop the virus transmission.
Think of the healthcare and frontline workers who have been working day and night to battle the menace or those white collars who risk their lives to go to work every day to earn their living and keep the economy going. Whether we are gearing up for domestic travel or just a plain living day, we must conform to the new normal.
Let’s show our togetherness this Merdeka month by staying at home, following SOPs and most importantly, mask up when you are going out!
 World Health Organisation, 2019: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public