Malaysians ready to bite the bullet

PETALING JAYA: As the number of Covid-19 cases and death continues to hit record high, Malaysians are calling for a full lockdown to prevent the virus from spreading further.

Mydin managing director Datuk Ameer Ali Mydin said he would have supported a call not to implement a full lockdown six days ago.

But he changed his mind after losing several friends while an employee who had worked for him for 30 years is currently fighting for her life in ICU.

“My own personal driver is Covid-19-positive. My cousin, my nephew are Covid-19-positive and are telling me about the pain they are going through.

“Frankly, maybe many of you can continue but I am personally emotionally drained.

Heartbroken: Ameer Ali says he would have supported a call not to implement a full lockdown six days ago, but the scenario has changed with the death of some loved ones, and others in ICU.Heartbroken: Ameer Ali says he would have supported a call not to implement a full lockdown six days ago, but the scenario has changed with the death of some loved ones, and others in ICU.

“I have a 86-year-old mother and each day she is alive, I thank God she has not contracted Covid-19 as I know she will not survive if she did.

“Let’s sacrifice. Yes, many might go hungry but I am sure none will die of hunger. Yes, many of us will lose millions and our heartless banks will go after us but if we can save even one life it will be worth all the sacrifices, ” he said in a statement yesterday.

Ameer Ali noted that those who died were “not just anyone” but someone’s father, mother, sister or daughter.

Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the startling spike in Covid-19 figures must be stemmed immediately, and the government must ensure people were able to survive this difficult period.

“It is right to reintroduce the movement control order. But now we are much less strict in doing so.

“We need to confine people to their homes. There should not be any excuse for crowds to form. Staying apart must be applied even among the frontliners.

“Confining people at home means they will have no money and no food. The government must accept the responsibility of keeping people alive, ” he said.

He admitted that it would be a costly endeavour, but that the cost must be borne by the government.

Dr Mahathir called for the vaccination programme to be sped up, adding that special efforts must also be made to get kampung people vaccinated. Universiti Malaya expert virologist Prof Dr Sazaly Abu Bakar also agreed that the country needed a total lockdown due to the rising cases.

“We should only allow those who are Covid-19-negative and those in the green bubbles to move around whether it is for work or otherwise.

“Employers must test all their employees to ensure they are Covid-19-free before they are allowed to go to work. Employers, too, have to create a safe workplace environment and institute safe workplace practices, ” he said.

Dr Sazaly also urged for a permanent long lasting solution so that there would not be a need to go through a repeated opening and closing of economic activities.

The Federation of Malaysian Business Associations said the call for a total lockdown was not unwarranted as previous calls for compliance for strict SOP were ineffective.

It cited the view of National University of Singapore Public Health Prof Teo Yik Ying who said that a total lockdown was necessary if the health system was overwhelmed with the situation getting out of control.

“We are calling for the government to issue stricter nationwide lockdown to ensure we break the chain of infection. We are ready to bite the bullet for the sake of the nation and the people but simultaneously implement an urgent economic recovery stimulus package, ” it said.

It also noted that a stricter lockdown must be accompanied with an economic sustenance package consisting of financial support, zero interest automated moratorium, other financial institutional repayment suspension such as hire purchase and lease repayment, wage subsidy programme, statutory exemptions, utilities subsidies, proactive and inclusive actions on the SOP, and a whole country approach to the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme.

However, Malaysian Medical Association president Prof Datuk Dr Subramaniam Muniandy urged the public to practise a self-imposed lockdown which the Health Ministry had promoted, noting that everyone must adhere to the SOP to break the chain of infection.

“We should only go out when it is absolutely necessary, plan and buy groceries once a week and as much as possible, and work from home. The newer variants are more contagious. Do not give the virus the opportunity to infect you and others, ” he said.

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