LIFE AFTER THE MCO
The government recently announced the extension of the Movement Control Order (MCO) which was originally to have expired on 31.3.2020, having commenced on 18.3.2020, for a further two weeks until 14.4.2020.
Enhanced Movement Control Orders (EMCO) have been imposed in certain areas which have experienced unusual spikes in the number of Covid-19 cases, namely districts in Simpang Renggam, Johor which have been closed off to non-residents in an effort to minimise the spread of the disease.
It is unclear if the said MCO and EMCO would be further extended but what is certain is that life, as we knew it, will not be the same for a while after the said restrictions are lifted.
At the time of writing, the figures have surpassed the half million mark with 542,385 cases and 24,368 deaths worldwide. Today, USA has overtaken China with the highest number of cases at 85,749 with Italy remaining the country with the highest fatality rate at 8,215.
Malaysia ranks 22nd in the list of countries with the highest number of cases worldwide with 2,161 cases and 26 deaths as of today, the highest in Southeast Asia.
According to the Ministry of Health website, there are 2,338 cases pending results from three main categories of cases, namely Patients Under Investigation (PUI), those who have had close contact with known cases and those displaying influenza-like and respiratory illnesses.
It is to be noted that since the commencement of the MCO on 18.3.2020, the number of cases have ranged from anywhere between 120 to 235 cases daily, a huge increase of cases compared to the period between 27.2.2020 until 14.3.2020 when no day recorded more than 60 new cases.
In other words, the daily incidence of cases in Malaysia from the time the MCO commenced has at least doubled, if not quadrupled compared to before its commencement.
The situation is so fluid at the moment that the figures above keep changing by the hour.
In light of such statistics, it would be naive to think that the number of daily new cases in the country would reach a safe level when the MCO and EMCO periods end on 14.4.2020 and as such, the possibility that it may be further extended cannot be dismissed. In fact, I am of the view that it will likely be extended.
In any event, even if the restrictions do come to an end on 14.4.2020, it is near certain that the problem of new cases occurring daily will not, which means the practice of social distancing, good hygiene, a significant change in lifestyle in terms of how we interact with one another and our new economic structure and challenges, amongst others will become our new normal.
This begs the question what that new normal is without a government restriction order in the near future.
We must educate ourselves as to what that new normal entails and embrace it soonest as it is a misconception to think that things will return to how we knew it after the MCO comes to an end and the people must be prepared for this reality, at least for some time to come until we truly defeat Covid-19.
Dated this 27th March, 2020.
Member of Parliament for Bukit Gelugor