2021-01-12 14:39:00  2409706

Comprehensive plan needed to fight the virus

Opinion

Sin Chew Daily

The number of coronavirus infections worldwide hit 90 million on Sunday, with more than 1.94 million fatalities.

Judging from the current trend of development, the 100 millionth case should be reported by end of this month, and based on the 2.15% fatality rate, the number of deaths will hit 2.15 million by then.

On Sunday, we reported more than 136,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and with an estimated 2,000-case daily increases, we should breach the 180,000-mark by late January, about three weeks earlier than the 178,000-case projection by China's Zhong Nanshan, by February 20.

The good thing is, the fatality rate here is very low, only about 0.41%, or 18.8% of global average. It will be a new disaster if our fatality rate catches up with the global average.

Many have pinned their hopes on the vaccines. According to Bloomberg, some 25 million doses have been administered so far in 42 countries worldwide. It has been more than a month since the first dose was administered in the UK on December 8, showing that the progress of vaccination is indeed slower than anticipated. It is almost impossible for Malaysia to inoculate 83% of its population by end of this year.

With 355 days left of 2021, it is downright impossible to get the entire population inoculated or for the virus to vanish on its own. As such, we need to have a strong resolution to combat the virus. The battle is no longer just a 100-meter sprint but a time-consuming Marathon race. We have proposed a long-term plan as follows:

First and foremost, mobile management. The top three health officials – health minister, deputy minister and DG Noor Hisham Abdullah should try to take time off their busy schedules to visit the modular hospitals, quarantine centers, COVID-19 hospitals, large foreign worker hostels and workplaces at various localities for spot checks to ensure no flouting of SOPs and loopholes.

It is impossible for them to effectively control the spread of the virus by merely gazing at the numbers at their air-conditioned offices and read out to the audience in front of TV during air time.

Secondly, we must put up teams of COVID fighters. Don't we boast a massive army of 1.7 million civil servants? We should pick just 5% out of these people to be volunteers of 85,000 people, ten in a team, and we will have 8,500 well-trained teams fighting the virus heads-on.

Their job is to inspect the environment of our modular hospitals as well as home quarantine compliance, with focus on COVID-19 readiness, work and living environment for workers of large and medium-sized companies.

Perhaps we have inspected the conditions at some large corporations but are there any follow-up actions? The problem will not be solved if we don't conduct regular checks and mete out heavy penalties on the violators.

Thirdly, hospital interns should be given the opportunity to join the frontliners. There are many of them at this moment, and instead of keeping them at home waiting for employment prospects, perhaps the health ministry can consider enlisting and training them to help relieve the tremendous burden on the shoulders of our frontliners.

Fourthly, expedite screening of all Malaysians which is very important in tracing infected individuals and preventing the virus from spreading, even though the different test methods may produce varying degrees of accuracy.

Next, build additional modular hospitals and improve the environment of existing ones. We have seen from the videos that indeed the environment at some modular hospitals is pathetic. Have the top guns at the health ministry visited these places?

Based on the average capacity of a modular hospital, Dr Noor Hisham should be able to easily calculate the number of new modular hospitals that need to be urgently built. We don't want our health officials to tell us that our modular hospitals are stretched beyond their limits. This thing should not have happened if we were better prepared for it!

Last but not least, stricter controls and self discipline. Considering its impact on the national economy, reinstating MCO is never a good option although it is absolutely necessary to step up controls at red zones, including inter-state and inter-district travels.

While Malaysians must be more disciplined and comply with all the SOPs, so should our politicians learn to discipline themselves and stop the nonsensical fights among one another.

We will only win this war against if each and every one of us would do our part to stop the virus.


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