Better to face the bitter truth


Fire and Rescue Department personnel preparing their Hazmat suits to spray disinfectants at a site in Penang. — Filepic

WHEN news broke out that a new cluster had emerged in the northeast district in Penang, a sense of uneasiness spread among the population of a high-rise property here, with many fearing the worst.

Even without any confirmation from the Health Ministry, Penangites were already sure that some residents of the waterfront condominium were infected with the Covid-19 virus.

A news portal even named the condominium and reported that the index case was detected on Nov 10.

But here’s the best part — neither the residents of the property nor the management office were informed of the cluster and instead they found out about it from the Health Ministry’s daily Covid-19 news update.

The cluster, labelled after the first word of the condominium’s name, made it to the news after it recorded 11 positive Covid-19 cases with the screening of 53 people there. At the time, four people were awaiting their results.

Following the update from the ministry, concerned residents ‘bombarded’ representatives of the management office and committee with the million-dollar question - was there a positive Covid-19 case at the condominium or not?

They wanted to know why wasn’t there an official notification from the authorities if there was indeed a positive case.

But the only thing for sure was the sight of an ambulance, picking up several residents in the vicinity.

Well, as the saying goes — ‘your guess is as good as mine’ and the ministry until today, has remained tight-lipped on the matter despite repeated calls to its hotline.

However, in retrospect, we can say that the authorities had indeed gained a foothold in containing the cluster.

But for me personally, this episode taught me about maintaining civility, public reasoning and calmness through messages and information shared in residents’ WhatsApp groups.

A reply from the Penang Lawan Covid-19 Facebook page, which was shared in the residents’ group by one of the residents recently piqued my interest.

“The virus can be everywhere. Places with positive cases will undergo disinfection process and probably they are cleaner than other places where the potential virus carrier also visited and touched.

“Instead of avoiding places with positive Covid-19 cases, it’s better to follow the standard operating procedure (SOP) no matter where you go.

“Don’t go to crowded places, don’t go out unnecessarily and wear a face mask at all times when you go out. You’ll be safer if you do all these, instead of just trying to avoid certain places and end up being negligent at other places, ” the post read.

Besides urging his fellow residents to stay calm, another resident also shared a visual, featuring interview with medical experts, that suggests that the virus won’t last long on the surface in actual living conditions.

Again, wearing face masks, keeping physical distancing, washing hands regularly and having no social activities would be key in keeping us safe.

Perhaps it’s best for the Health Ministry to keep the residents of the concerned property informed via the management office on the latest development, with a ‘simple yes, that’s a positive case in your place’ to ease the tension and quell all the speculations or half-truths.

I believe all of us are mentally prepared to face the situation I f there is indeed a positive case surrounding our living environment.

The working class, too, needs a proper ‘black and white’ from the management office before they could submit to their employers for request to work from home to break the chain of infection.

Before I sign off, there is another interesting quote from one of the residents.

“Knowing if the cluster is indeed from your living space will not make you healthier. Practising all the advice given by the medical experts will’’.

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