Managing people’s concerns

CONSCIOUS or not, if we recall the increase in Covid-19 cases, which has become a nightmare for the people in this country in the past two years, the assertion of ‘tightening’, ‘monitoring’ and ‘close inspection’ at the entrance of the country by the government at that time it ended up taking the country through a series of Movement Control Orders (MCO) while all the quarantine centers and hospitals were crowded with Covid patients.
Starting with stating that the situation is under control, controlling it tightly until it seems to be out of control finally millions of people in this country are infected with Covid-19.
So, when the government recently announced that it will not restrict the entry of foreign tourists, including China, which is now severely threatened by Covid-19 into this country and that the government will take steps to ‘tighten up the entry procedures’, it created a thousand kinds of concerns for the public .
We cannot blame the public for being angry with these tightening measures even in the name of improving the country’s economy because often people’s anger and concerns are well-founded.
How not, the black episode of this country during that period, as if we don’t want to remember it anymore. Many bitter experiences we have gone through. Many have lost their loved ones, many have suffered as a result of Long Covid until now, some have been affected by the vaccine, lost their jobs, business ‘wrapped up’ while the frontliners don’t talk about it, they don’t even get tired anymore. Children’s schooling is also chaotic. Online classes make many people drop out because they can’t afford gadgets in addition to bad internet coverage in rural areas especially.
Many of us have already felt the pain of experiencing Covid-19. Some have been infected with Covid-19 twice or maybe more even though they always wear face masks and rarely go outside except for work. The fact is, people who get Covid-19 do not all violate standard operating procedures (SOP) but they are still unlucky.
Therefore, in addition to demanding that the people of this country continue to maintain the SOP, the people want to know and hope that the ‘tightening up’ measures are really strict to ensure that tourists from China or other countries severely infected with Covid-19 do not enter the country.
This Tuesday, the Minister of Health, Dr. Zaliha Mustafa will announce the new procedure. We hope it doesn’t just scan the body temperature like entering a supermarket because the current symptoms of Covid-19, not all start with a fever. Some just have a headache, body ache or throat. These symptoms of course cannot be read by scanning the temperature. Similarly, there are patients without symptoms.
The issue of checking aircraft sewage also needs to be explained. The time when the decision will be known. Is it after they have been allowed to enter, that the results can be obtained?
This makes many people wonder if the measures will be tightened again because previously we had quite strict procedures before they were relaxed with the re-opening of the country’s border gates last year.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently received data from China showing a total of 218,019 new Covid-19 infections in the week up to January 1. The data also showed a total of 648 new deaths in the period from the country including Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau. Previously, the United Nations (UN) health agency was said not to have received any data from China in the past few weeks after Beijing withdrew its Zero Covid policy at the beginning of last month.
We do not want the government to discriminate against any tourists but when Malaysia adopts an open door policy to all countries infected with severe Covid-19, of course the people are at risk of being infected. This is what really worries the people right now. Therefore, the people want the measures to be tightened again which is really effective. Perform a swab test on all foreign tourists. Without choosing the risky. All who enter cannot be excluded.
Right now, we are going through a recovery phase. Not only the economic recovery but also the recovery of spirit for everyone affected by this Covid-19.
The fact is, this country needs to learn from past mistakes that when we open the country’s entrance to foreign tourists whose countries are experiencing severe cases of Covid-19, we end up with this virus even though not all of it is from outside but it can spread easily even with an infected tourist.
Asking people to take a booster dose because they want to allow foreign tourists into the country, that must sound a little strange. This means that foreign tourists who want to enter here, citizens of this country are asked to take the vaccine several times.
That’s right, we don’t need to be alarmed by worrying news about Covid-19 in other countries. Because, we have experience going through it and know the steps to avoid it by complying with the SOP.
Even so, if we have an opportunity to prevent it, we should use that opportunity because if it is too late, it will not be able to be contained even by ‘tightening up’ the SOP.
Actually, our own people are already able to spend by filling the tourist centers in the corners of the country every public holiday and school holiday. Meaning, the tourism industry will not dim if the entry of foreign tourists is temporarily blocked.
It is true that the safety and lives of the people are a priority and cannot be compromised as Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said. We appreciate the concern of the Prime Minister.
But as people who have gone through those difficult moments, of course we don’t want the same thing to happen again. It’s enough that it only happened in the past two years. This year and the coming year, of course we want to focus on increasing household income and on the part of the government to restore the national economy and improve the lives of the people.
People’s concerns need to be taken into account. Because no matter what kind of confusion later on, the people will suffer and suffer.
At the same time, the people should not be complacent. Continue to comply with the SOP even though the Covid-19 cases in this country are showing a decrease. We can no longer afford to stay at home. All have to work. Stomach needs to be filled. Bills need to be paid.

THE AUTHOR is the Senior News Editor of the Malaysian Weekly

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