Guard up for a safe Johor election


The writer does regular self-tests to ensure he does not pass the Covid-19 virus unknowingly to his friends and loved ones. — Filepic

JOHOREANS will be casting their ballot in the state election on March 12.

However, Covid-19 is on everyone’s mind, especially with the spike in Omicron cases.

Some parties had asked for this election to be stopped through the declaration of an emergency.

But if the Sarawak and Melaka elections could be held during the pandemic, why not Johor?

Although the Health Ministry has come up with clear guidelines, the 14 political parties and people need to play their part in ensuring that the standard operating procedure is adhered to during this election.

Since the Johor state assembly was dissolved on Jan 22, I’ve been travelling to every corner of the state covering all kinds of events until late at night.

Crowds have been quite large and I have seen many not following the SOP, including failure to mask up, sitting too close to each other and taking selfies with political leaders.

Some of them even brought along young children.

It seems many have forgotten that Covid-19 is still among us.

At least four of my fellow media practitioners have tested positive for Covid-19 and this is even before campaigning officially starts.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the increasing number of Covid-19 infections had led to more critical cases in intensive care units (ICU).

He said ICU usage had increased by more than half in Johor (70%), Perlis (64%) and Kuala Lumpur (59%), while the usage of non-critical ICU beds in Johor and Perak had breached the 100% mark.

Dr Noor Hisham said of the 168 new variants-of-concern cases reported from Feb 16 to 19, 136 were Omicron and 33 were Delta.

Some of my relatives and friends have contracted Covid-19, and this is worrying as I have a young child and an elderly father at home.

While my family members have completed our vaccination shots, including booster jabs, the threat of getting Covid-19 never leaves me, especially whenever I cover political events with big crowds.

I have been doing a self-test for Covid-19 daily because of the nature of my job and to ensure that I do not unknowingly spread the virus to my loved ones and friends.

My son, who will be turning five in a couple of months, always reminds me of the importance of following the SOP.

Each time he goes to his kindergarten or whenever I take him out, he would always make sure that he wears a mask and washes his hands regularly because he hates Covid-19, which he calls the “naughty virus”.

Under the SOP for the Johor election, activities such as ceramah, talks and house-to-house visits will be allowed throughout the 14-day campaign period.

However, they are only permitted at party offices and official operations rooms with participation limited to 100 people, including the organisers.

House-to-house visits must not exceed five people entering homes or meeting the occupants at any one time.

Now that the SOP for the election has been announced, I hope political parties and politicians follow it and not play the blame game if Covid-19 cases go up.

If people adhere to the SOP and self-test regularly, I believe that we will have a safe election and avoid a Covid-19 spike.

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