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'Malaysia needs to address many issues before lifting lockdown'
Published on: Saturday, May 02, 2020
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Photo file from Bernama
Photo file from Bernama
Kota Kinabalu: Malaysia is not ready to exit the Movement Control Order (MCO) due to many issues that still need to be addressed, said senior consultant paediatrician Datuk Dr Amar-Singh.

Amar identified, during a recent webinar hosted by the Science Media Centre (SMC) Malaysia in collaboration with the Malaysian Health Coalition (MHC), four weaknesses out of the six criteria outline by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for exiting the MCO. 

“They are testing and screening, the capacity of the healthcare system, contact tracing, and most importantly, the mindset of the community to live under a new normal,” he said in a statement, recently.

“I do not believe that the general public has fully grasped and adopted all the necessary preventative measures, such as physical distancing, to stop the spread of Covid-19. 

“We cannot only have 50 per cent or 70 per cent of people who are compliant.”

He added, to stop the spread of this disease, according to the WHO, almost all of society must abide by these measures and take responsibility. 

“I don’t think that the general public has fully understood this,” he said.

Amar who is also a member of MHC added that the 33 new cases of Covid-19 among patients of influenza-like illnesses (ILI) and severe acute respiratory infections (Sari) in the last two weeks show that the virus is still spreading within the community.

“What we have yet to understand is that although the spread is under control, people are still being infected, which means that the virus is still spreading from one person to another in our society.

“What will happen if we are not careful is the virus will continue to spread and there will be an even larger second and third wave.”

Amar is also the former Head of the Paediatric Department at Hospital Raja Permaisuri Bainun, Ipoh and recently co-wrote standard operating procedure (SOP) guidelines for schools and childcare centres for the post-MCO period.

These guidelines produced by the National Early Childhood Intervention Centre highlighted the need to train teachers and parents on preventative measures which include physical distancing of students in the classroom and in schools.

“I cannot imagine 40 students sitting in a classroom with one teacher. That is very dangerous.

“It is unlikely that the disease will be fatal for children nor will they fall severely ill, but they could carry the infection to their parents and grandparents,” he said.

The webinar moderated by co-founder of SMC Malaysia, Tan Su Lin, was held on Apr 25 to discuss strategies for the ‘new normal’ once the MCO is lifted.

The panellists comprised of health, mental health and science communications experts analysed the key issues relating to the Covid-19 pandemic in Malaysia. 

They discussed many issues from the impact of long-term MCO on mental health to life after MCO and MCO exit strategies, as well as preparations for the new normal and the importance of effective science communication during the Covid-19 crisis.

Meanwhile, another panellist, consultant clinical psychologist at the University of Cyberjaya, Assoc Prof Dr Zubaidah Jamil Osman urged people to mentally prepare for and accept the new normal which includes continuing habits of physical distancing and staying at home.

Science communications expert Dr Mahaletchumy Arujanan asserted that strategies for exiting the MCO must be communicated clearly to ensure that people understand the consequences if new norms of behaviour are not observed.

“General awareness and understanding of scientific issues in our society is low,’ she said.



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