Sin Chew Daily
Almost five hundred days since we started fighting the virus, but the SOPs are still anything but standardized, sending everyone in jitters. A few examples:
No updating of health info on MySejahtera is against the law? 29 employees at a Sitiawan factory were issued RM2,000 summonses each by the Manjung police for not updating their MySejahtera health info. The fine is almost a whole month of salary for these people. We later contacted MKN director-general Mohd Rabin Basir and were told that only those with COVID-19 symptoms, having come into contact with a COVID-positive person and traveled overseas need to update their MySejahtera health info.
Late April, a hawker selling burgers at a stall in front of his house in Kelantan was fined a hefty RM50,000 for not ending his business before the stipulated time. Senio0r defense minister Ismail Sabri later said the penalty was too heavy and at times police cops could "make mistakes".
From March, the maximum fine for SOPs violators would be increased from RM1,000 to RM10,000. For almost half a month every violation was punishable with RM10k fine. We were later told that discounts could be offered at local health offices although we were told by them they had not received any official notice and knew about this only through newspapers!
The Petaling district health office even put a notice at the main entrance to tell people to look for Noor Hisham instead.
As if that is not enough, much confusion has been aroused over inter-district travels between red, yellow or green zones; only those living under the same roof could enjoy CNY reunion dinner together under the SOPs; and the sale of liquors... the list goes on.
If we were to test the enforcement officers of their knowledge in anti-virus SOPs, I doubt they can score above 80, while most people in the street manage only 60 at best. The more confusing the SOPs are, the more rumors get circulated, and people slowly begin to believe in what they read and start spreading the rumors themselves.
We sincerely urge the authorities to compile a Q&A for all the SOPs in four major languages: BM, English, Chinese and Tamil and publish it for all to read, or get the SOP violators or rumor-mongers to each forward to 1,000 different people as a form of community service.
Where there's a will there's a way!
If the virus can think, and is asked what it fears most, it will definitely tell you vaccine and strict SOPs. And as what delights it most: confusing SOPs and the fact that some humans are actually scared of the vaccines!
We still have a long way to go before we can triumph over the virus. Precise and clear SOPs and universal immunization are our only bet to win the war.
The situation now is still quite bad although we have seen a slight downtrend of new infections in recent days with the R0 value below 1. We are still among the top ten in daily new increases, only better than India and the Philippines in Asia. As for incidence rate, we recorded 191 new infections for every one million people on Sunday, ranked fourth in the world after Brazil, Argentina and Colombia.
Despite this, many still don't seem to worry that the virus is already lurking in our midst. Health DG Noor Hisham said new infections and fatalities increased sharply since April 3 and the percentage of sporadic cases had increased from 52% to 84% now, including 559 of 641 deaths reported in the most recent week.
Why is this phenomenon so alarming? Because unlike the infection clusters, , it is very difficult to trace the source of the infections.
So, adhere to the SOPs, stay at home, and get vaccinated.
Nevertheless, the vaccination rate is also very low. PM Muhyiddin has repeatedly urged the people to go for vaccination, but as of this Sunday, we have only a registration rate of 52.3% while there are 60 countries that have more than this percentage of their populations immunized against COVID-19. At only 10.57%, our vaccination rate is ranked 120th among 203 countries in the world.
Are we more afraid of the vaccine than the virus?
How are we going to win this battle if our registration and vaccination rates are so low while the government's SOPs are so confusing and many don't bother to follow them?
Maybe things may not become as bad as health minister Adham Baba has warned, with 26,000 deaths by September, it is absolutely possible that we will eventually record over a million infections with over 10,000 deaths.
We still have 116 days to September, and the above projections could be reached if we report an average of 3,276 new infections and 57 deaths every day.
Let's work together to win this war. It will never be too late so long as we get ourselves started!