Experts: Keep fighting onPeople less vigilant as pandemic fatigue setting in

SEREMBAN: Pandemic fatigue could be among the factors causing people to let down their guard in curbing Covid-19, according to experts.

Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM) Specialist Clinic medical director Assoc Prof Dr Mohd Radzniwan A. Rashid said the fatigue was driven by various phases of movement controls implemented by the government since March last year.

“When it was first enforced, people were generally enthusiastic to work together to flatten the Covid-19 curve.

“However, since September last year with interstate travel more relaxed and with the Sabah state election, there was a spike in positive cases. People grew tired as there seems to be no end to the pandemic, ” he said.

On Jan 16, Malaysia’s daily cases topped 4,000 for the first time with 4,029 cases. As of Thursday, there were 42,814 active cases with the death toll standing at 660.

At one time, the country managed to flatten the curve of infection, reducing transmission of the virus in the community.

According to Prof Radzniwan, lack of self-control was the main factor leading to more local infections.

“Presently, some abide by the SOP but some do not.

“This is because some are feeling overwhelmed with still having to maintain a state of constant vigilance and to be reminded of observing physical distancing, wearing a face mask and this is wearisome.

“Perhaps some are getting bored of staying home for so long. Although certain rules have been relaxed, as they are now allowed to carry on with their leisure activities, business and others, these privileges are being abused, ” he said.

Prof Radzniwan, who lectures at the USIM Medicine and Health Sciences Faculty, said the recent surge in positive cases was also due to the community’s complacency in continuing to comply with the restrictions.

He said in the early stages of the MCO implementation, people were concerned and closely followed developments of the pandemic, sharing information and videos on social media and were afraid to leave their homes.

“But these days many are lackadaisical, the consequences of getting Covid-19 and the risks do not seem real to them.

“Our concern is the asymptomatic persons who go undetected and we cannot tell who these silent spreaders are, ” he said.

Universiti Malaya senior consultant psychiatrist Assoc Prof Dr Amer Siddiq Amer Nordin shared the view that pandemic fatigue had led to public non-compliance of the SOP.

Malaysian Academic Association Congress (MAAC) vice-president Prof Dr Ridhuan Tee Abdullah said people needed to understand the tagline #kitajagakita (looking after each other) to make the fight against the pandemic more effective.

He called for no discrimination in acting against violations of the SOP. “Action must be taken if one has committed an offence, regardless of whether the person is a minister. If only ordinary people are punished, eventually they will have no respect for the law and the situation will worsen, ” he pointed out.

He said the virus can hit anyone regardless of they were, adding that several ministers have already been tested positive. — Bernama

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