Will there ever be an end to this pandemic?

Jem wonders how the new prime minister and his health minister intend to bring down the high number of cases

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WONG SOAK KOON/ALIRAN

The new cabinet was sworn in minus the new prime minister, who was self-isolating, after being in contact with someone with the virus. Not a brilliant start. Is this an omen?

In his Merdeka speech, the prime minister referred to the former leaders’ “spirit of togetherness” and their contributions to nation-building. “On this auspicious date, let us pledge to together restore our nation, which was built transcending religious, racial and ethnic boundaries.”

What a farce! Did Ismail Sabri Yaakob think that bringing up the late leaders’ dream of an inclusive Malaysia would change the reality that racial and religious rhetoric has been around, especially in latter-day Malaysia? At the next general election, we will probably see such rhetoric unfold all over again. So, who is he trying to kid?

The prime minister also urged Malaysians to get themselves vaccinated. I have often wondered, when we read or hear about the numbers of deaths, how many died of the virus itself and how many died due to underlying ailments or whether Covid was the cause of their deaths. What were the ages of the people who died? How many were children? We are never told all this. Hopefully, the health minister or director general will give us the breakdowns, instead of just spewing out aggregate numbers. 

How much of testing and tracing is being done? Is this being done daily? If the MySejahtera app flags a person as being a ‘casual contact’, why does the app not inform the person where he or she was when it happened? It is pointless to just say that the person was in various places based on the check-in app. Will the health authorities inform the owners of those places that someone who was a casual contact had visited those places?

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With the Delta variant around, there is the question of how long protection from the Covid vaccines will last? Will there be a need for a booster shot, at some point? The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that the third booster shots should not be done because there are still many poorer countries in the world that have not yet been vaccinated.

This much-touted organisation has still not been able to get to the root of how this virus went viral and who was the culprit that let it out or originally transmitted it. Was this virus accidentally leaked in a lab? Was it from animal to humans? Perhaps it is all academic now because the whole world has been affected. If any case, whoever is responsible, if at all, is not going to own up.

There is now a new variant called MU that the WHO is monitoring. Apparently, it was first identified in Columbia and has mutations indicating a risk of vaccine resistance. Is the Malaysian government or the Ministry of Health working with scientists and virologists locally and abroad to mitigate the spread of this virus?

There was even a tidbit on the use of snake venom to fight the virus. Is this a sign of how desperate the world is in trying to find ways out of this pandemic?

Is herd immunity the answer? No country has achieved this so far. And even if any nation did, there could be other deadlier variants to come. What are the chances that the present vaccines can prevent infections from such variants?

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What are the new plans of the prime minister and his new cabinet, especially the new health minister, to bring down the high number of cases? Do lockdowns really work? It seems the only way to stop the spread of infections is mask-wearing, vaccinations and physical distancing and other rules.

As it stands, if we visit the typical grocer, physical distancing may fly out of the window. Customers usually stroll down the aisles without a care, and the management of all these establishments do not seem bothered, apart from the check-in at the entrance.

So, all these slogans like “Kita jaga kita” (We’ve got each other’s back) and “Lindung diri, lindung semua” (protect yourself, protect all) that we are constantly being bombarded with on TV and radio are all just clichés. Few seem to bother about them any longer.

What are the opposition parties doing? DAP leader Lim Kit Siang wants to know how Indonesia was able to bring its daily cases down while Malaysia is unable to.

Instead of pointing fingers, would it not be beneficial to the entire country if the opposition can come up with some ideas. Put it out there for the government, and if the ideas are feasible, then it is all for the good of everyone. If the government still does things its own way, then at least, the opposition can say it tried. The opposition can always use that in its campaigning for the next general election.

Hopefully, the government, its Ministry of Health and the health director general, whose decisions over the past year have not made a bit of difference, can make more concerted efforts to bring down the numbers. Because, as things stand, there is no light at the end of this dreary tunnel.

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Jem, an Aliran reader, still cares deeply about Sabah, despite having lived in the peninsula for some time

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J. D. Lovrenciear
5 Sep 2021 10.36am

The world is is becoming numb to the problem. Malaysia remains a confused, lost nation.