Experts: Crucial to keep fighting

PETALING JAYA: As the Covid-19 pandemic rages on, a group of medical professionals has stressed the need to keep the fight going, and for the government to lead by example in uniting the people to follow the standard operating procedure (SOP).

“If we look at countries with good leadership, the citizens follow the SOP strictly because it flows from the top, where the top doesn’t deviate and consistently walks the talk, ” said Malaysian Health Coalition member Datuk Dr Amar Singh.

He added that people want to see “fair play” by the authorities.

“If a fine is necessary, it should be across the board. Then only will people accept it, rather than letting some groups of people off, ” he said.

He said the country’s political scenario is not helping to flatten the curve of infection.

“A lot of our energy and time has been wasted on other issues. I believe that part of the reason people are slacking off is that they are fed up with our political situation, ” he said.

Dr Amar called on everyone to continue upholding the SOP as this would also put pressure on those who flout these measures.

Malaysian Public Health Physicians Association president Datuk Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar said people are fed up with some of the decisions that have been implemented.

He said it is important for the people to be empowered, and to provide spaces or platforms for people to air their issues and problems.

Malaysian Medical Association president Prof Datuk Dr M. Subramaniam said there is still a lack of understanding among a significant proportion of Malaysians on how the coronavirus is transmitted.

He said if people understood that they could be infected from respiratory droplets from unprotected close conversations with an infected person, then they might change their habits and observe the SOP.

“People are also feeling tired and uncomfortable from wearing face masks for long durations, ” he said.

“This is common among people in the service sectors and it is understandable. But they must ensure that their face masks are on and physical distancing observed when there are people around them.”

Dr Subramaniam said employers should allow their workers to take a “breather” by allowing staff to get some fresh air and allowing them to change their face mask if it has been worn for long hours.

Apart from that, he said employers too have a vital role to ensure SOP compliance at workplaces.

“As there is no enforcement at offices, employers should put a staff member in charge of overseeing SOP compliance at the workplace.

“To show how serious the SOP should be taken, the Health Ministry should also fine ministers, government officials and staff for any breach in the SOP, ” he said.

Malaysian Mental Health Association president Datuk Dr Andrew Mohanraj said some people are also facing “pandemic fatigue” due to the prolonged uncertainty surrounding Covid-19 and misinformation about the vaccines.

The misinformation could result in people questioning the efficacy of the vaccines when it is eventually introduced.

“This is also a factor for (people) being dismissive of the behavioural changes required to minimise the rate of transmission of the virus.

“People struggling with the loss of income and potentially being unemployed are also inclined to develop fatigue and cynicism towards the SOP, ” said Dr Andrew.

It is important for people to not disseminate fake news and misinformation about the vaccine, he said.“A sufficient number of people must be vaccinated in order to reach herd immunity that will to a large extent protect us all, ” he added.

“Let us not jeopardise that by being gullible to mischievous news.”

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