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Covid-19: Move aside politics and politicians, let the real experts do their jobs and helm this crisis

Narinder Pal Singh / Malay Mail Share:
A health official shows a nasal swab sample for a coronavirus test in a “COVID Drive” at the University Hospital Centre (CHU) in Rennes, western France. AFP

With the rising numbers of Covid-19 positive patients in Malaysia, the alarm bells have been ringing non-stop. Every organisation or person related to the health industry is jumping onto the bandwagon to contribute their ideas on how to address the issue.

Some want more stringent controls enforced effectively while some have suggested that more rapid testing is done to weed out positive cases for faster and targeted control.

No doubt the ideas and suggestions look pristine on paper and in theory, the reality and practicality on the ground is very much different.

First and foremost, the root of all evil begins with the policymakers. We have uncountable so-called “high-level” committees that are backboned by politicians and inept ministers who practically have no inkling what health sciences demand during a pandemic.

The government agencies are more focused in “catching and fining” those who are blatantly flouting or plainly ignorant about the various standard operating procedures (SOPs) put in place for their own benefit.

It would be more appropriate that these energy and resources be put to educate people in public about physical/social distancing and practicing proper hygiene standards.

Check on the quality of the hand sanitisers provided at outlets and public places.

Over the months since the pandemic started, all I can say is that in general the quality of hand sanitisers at outlets have been drastically compromised. We have nothing more than soap water and even just water being put for public use in many places. Or diluted version of alcohol-based hand sanitisers that are most likely not to work and just give a false sense of security.

We see groups of people that do not wear face masks of any sort and physical distancing is thrown out of the window conveniently as though the pandemic is all over and things are back to old normal.

But sad that we hardly see anybody ticking off these non-complying groups.

What the enforcement government agencies need is to put more uniformed personnel on the ground. Their visual presence could play a more positive role in reminding people on the basic practices that must be adhered to.

The time wasted on issuing summonses, remanding those breaking the laws and bringing them to court is a sheer waste of time and taxpayers’ money. Their time and efforts should be more focused in educating the public and delivering the message in the great mass of the population.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Health Ministry seriously needs to coordinate their playbook and communication strategy.

Churning out the daily 24-hours numbers have clearly not impacted the behaviour of people. People are becoming immune to these numbers for various reasons. For one is the trust deficit towards the government statistics and its lack of urgency displayed.

We have ministers that have no standing in the medical arena making statements on the efficacy, safety and delivery of the coming vaccines. The public needs to hear from the horse’s mouth and not non-experts or unwarranted comments from minister who think they know it all just because they are appointed to head a particular ministry.

We are in an unprecedented era and we critically need qualified health professionals to address the public on the Covid-19 threat. Not some minister from Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation as the mouthpiece on the issues of vaccines and health delivery systems in combating the disease.

Having said that, the Health Ministry needs to also be more specific and congruent in drilling the urgency within the minds of the public. As the numbers were already in the uptrend, there was little emphasis being given to possibility of uncontrolled spread of Covid-19.

The impression perceived was that the cases are very much confined to foreign workers in the country and that all will be fine as they were being isolated within their living quarters.

Above that, the ministry kept assuring the public that while the numbers are up, the R-nought (R0) is not worrisome and manageable. And if that was not damaging enough, the health ministry kept saying that the conditional movement control order (CMCO) was working fine. Really?

The bottom line is obvious — we cannot allow politics and politicians helm such a health crisis. Let the real experts do their jobs without fear or favour.

And please keep all the accolades until after the war is over and won not prematurely so much that those honoured are seen to be subservient to their masters!

 

This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.

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