Do Not React in Fear

By Michelle Ng

Writing for a column like SJ Echo is never easy. I can prepare an article a week before with a certain message, but all it takes is one or two intervening events to make its contents irrelevant.

Just yesterday, Malaysia reported 287 Covid-19 cases in a single day – our highest ever. Just before that, my office, councillors, MPSJ and (as I was made to understand) even SJ Echo, were inundated with queries about whether news that certain areas in Subang Jaya recorded Covid-19 cases were true. The next wave of queries that came were about whether it is right for schools and kindergartens to put on leave students who live in the alleged affected housing area, or who have visited those premises. Some schools have even gone to the extent of putting on leave students who have travelled to other states, whether or not it has reported cases of Covid-19. I then received messages saying that the government MUST confirm whether there are cases in Subang Jaya so that ‘extra precautions’ can be exercised when one is near those places.

Subang Jaya, let’s not allow fear to take over. There is a need for us to go back to the fundamentals of this virus.

Covid-19 is transmitted through respiratory droplets, by direct contact with infected persons, or by contact with contaminated objects and surfaces. This means that Covid-19 it is not contained in a certain location. Why? Covid-19 requires a host, and hosts ie humans, move.

What does that mean in practical terms? ALL precautions must be exercised ALL of the time. On a personal level, the individual’s level, there is no such thing as “extra precautions”. When we talk about extra precautions, it means that we have on our own accord differentiated levels of precautions, and we choose when to exercise what. This is what makes me worry – that we have taken things for granted, and not so much whether there are cases in Subang Jaya. The reason is simple – the former is fundamental to the latter. Do not take basic precautions for granted, and we would be able to curb the existence of those cases.

Let’s remind ourselves about what does it mean to exercise all precautions all of the time – have a mask on at all times when you are out and disposing of it only when you reach home, if you are having a meal, take it off just before eating and put it back on immediately after you are done; wash your hands, sanitise as you go about your day, and if you have any symptoms, go to the hospital immediately.

Does avoiding certain places with alleged reported cases of Covid-19 work? If you are not rigorously exercising ALL said precautions, the answer is “No”. As someone who lives in an apartment whose adjacent neighbour was hospitalised for Covid-19 during the very first Movement Control Order, I can personally attest to that. I did not move out from my apartment just because there was a case, but I did make sure that I kept my mask on and kept my hands clean, especially after touching common surfaces like lift buttons and door handles.

Subang Jaya, let’s be calm in our reaction. Do not react in fear. As a nation, we have been through this before and we know exactly what to do. So let’s do just that and no less.