I read with dismay a foreign newspaper report which stated that Covid-19 is very likely to stay as our permanent enemy, just like the flu but much worse. Scientists from the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy predicted that Covid-19 was more contagious and has a longer incubation period than the flu, meaning it takes longer for symptoms to appear after a person has been infected.
The research also found that it might be at its most contagious before symptoms appear. It also said that even if the pandemic wanes, the virus would continue to circulate in the human population and synchronize with seasonal patterns with less severity over time.
This has left me wondering how on Earth are we going to win this battle against the virus which has evolved into variants and already infected countless people in this country? Will we ever be able to go back to normal?
Maybe it is hard for us to accept this reality but in essence, in my observation the current government has already put in place feasible plans and measures as the permanent way forward to synchronise our lives with the new normal.
The scientists’ predictions may seem bleak but the steps taken by our government in the medium- and long-term interest for the people and the country to achieve herd immunity can be seen in the rolling out of the national vaccination programme, which can help us get through this trying, difficult time together.
It’s just that I don’t get it when reading reports on slow vaccine registrations nationwide. Why don’t eligible Malaysians register without delay? I signed up on the very day the registration opened. From reports, the Health Ministry was targeting 70 to 80% of Malaysians to register for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme but so far, only 7.6 million out of 26.7 million people eligible have registered through the MySejahtera app.
Making things worse is when 1.4 million individuals did not complete their vaccination registration on the MySejahtera app as required according to Khairy Jamaluddin, the coordinating minister for the vaccination programme. They did not complete their registration but only filled in their names and identity card numbers for vaccine shots.
They did not reply to health evaluation questions and did not fill up their current addresses. This may sound petty or trivial to them but such an act can slow down the innoculation exercise on the whole. Information like someone's current address is important as the appointment for vaccinations will only be assigned to the nearest vaccine dispensing centre.
The government, via the relevant ministries and agencies, has made it easier and within reach for all of us to register. Manual registration is made available at health offices, health clinics, government and private hospitals for those who do not have the technology or Internet access to register for the vaccine.
Some Malaysians may hesitate to sign up due to fear of the side effects or any other reason drummed up by some quarters and from reading pandemic-related reports. This should not be the case because as responsible citizens, we must not adopt that wait-and-see attitude or pretend to be ignorant. Otherwise, this will only hold back and derail all of the government’s other plans and efforts to win the battle against Covid-19 and to bring all of us back to normal.
As it is, our economic recovery is already showing some good signs. One of the many signs is today’s reports about Malaysia’s world-first sovereign dollar sustainability sukuk we heard this morning. Malaysia, according to the Ministry of Finance, has successfully priced the world’s first sovereign US dollar sustainability sukuk, via the issuance of US$800mil (RM3.29bil) 10-year Trust Certificates, a reflection of investors’ confidence for Malaysia. The ministry said this demonstrated the market’s confidence in Malaysia’s economic recovery and growth prospects despite the challenging past year which was wrought by the pandemic.
While the government has and is doing everything possible to ensure the success of the programme, as the rakyat - especially those who are hesitant - must become more accepting of the vaccines. We must help the government to win this battle. Don’t blame the government if it decides to reconsider the registration policy if the sign-up rate is not satisfying. Blame yourself because your selfishness is the one that will hurt other people and this country.
Hamidah Sharif, , Bukit Antarabangsa, Ampang.