2020-09-17 13:56:00  2344413

Keep the virus in check

Opinion

Sin Chew Daily

The country has reported more than 600 positive coronavirus cases during the last 14 days.

On Tuesday, the prime minister warned that if the coronavirus situation is out of control, the government may be forced to reintroduce the MCO.

Kota Setar has been put on enhanced MCO. Shops are closed and local residents are told to stay home. Life is back to March 18.

If the virus spreads across the nation and MCO is re-imposed, the economy will take the brunt even though not many will get killed by the virus.

As of September 16, the country reported a cumulative total of 10,031 positive COVID-19 cases, 128 deaths and 9,235 recoveries at 92.06% recovery rate, significantly better than the global average of 72.7%.

That said, these are just the numbers. Even if only 1% of the country's population do not comply with the SOPs, all our earlier efforts will have to be rendered futile.

Compared to most countries in the world, Malaysia is justifiably a "safe haven" for people escaping the virus. Why? Because we don't take to the street to protest government's lockdown policy and are dutifully conforming to the SOPs and regulations.

On the other hand, countries like the US, Brazil, France and UK have paid a very heavy price for the indecisive government strategies and downplaying the COVID-19 virulence. Brazil's president even led the street demonstration himself while Donald Trump attended massive indoor election rallies. How to stop the virus and break the infection chain this way? Without strong government leads, their citizens only have themselves to look to.

We need to strike a balance between fighting the virus and keeping the economy from collapsing. To keep the virus i check, we will need to introduce varying degrees of lockdown policies from time to time. This will invariably hurt the economy.

The World Bank and IMF announced in late June that the global economy would see a 4.9% contraction this year. The US is expected to experience 8% economic contraction this year, while EU and Japan 10.2% and 5.8% respectively.

Preliminary estimates show that as many as 170 countries worldwide will see negative growth this year, and the world may see at least US$4.24 trillion in economic loss this year!

Malaysia will not be spared by the catastrophe. IMF has predicted the country's GDP will contract by 3.8% this year while Bank Negara has forecast a 2% contraction. Take the country's US$372.6 billion GDP for 2019, we will lose RM60 billion this year based on IMF's estimates.

Some of the industries may not be adversely affected by the pandemic, such as the glove industry, while hotels, airline companies, non-food retail businesses and entertainment spots will be the most badly hit.

We can only wait for the vaccine to be available in the market although claims of research successes globally have been dubious.

Even if we eventually have the vaccine, what if the virus has mutated as we develop the vaccine? How are we going to allocate the vaccine for the world's 7.6 billion population?

Dr Noor Hisham has said: the best vaccine is SOP compliance. Stay home unless necessary.


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