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Resilience of Covid-19 tests national will

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Malaysians have responded well to the extended lockdown, but Covid-19 could strike back if we let down our guard, Veloo Saminathan writes.

Covid-19 continues to ravage many parts of the world, with the US bearing the brunt of infections and deaths.

Recently, the city of Wuhan, where it started in a big way but was then freed of the deadly menace, experienced a sudden spike again, sending alarm bells ringing and the authorities into a frenzy of action.

Much of Asia remains in the grip of the pandemic – though in many parts, the rate of new cases daily has slowed. In Malaysia, the number of new cases daily has fallen to double digits.

The Malaysian director general of health, in his suave, confident manner, maintains the government’s target of reducing new cases daily to single digits soon – though that won’t be easy.

The new troubling danger is what the director general has described as clusters, infections of individuals in a group, which has resulted in entire groups or areas being put under quarantine.

Many recent victims are foreign workers, some of them undocumented. This resulted in entire areas being placed under tight quarantine, with even food being supplied from outside.

Malaysia has some two million documented migrant workers and several million undocumented, many of them living in cramped conditions. Screening them would be a Herculean task requiring enormous resources. On humanitarian grounds, some of these clusters have to be tested and cleared.

Surveys conducted independently have shown that the public, barring a few glitches, has responded well to the lockdown imposed with the help of the police and the army.

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Many frontline staff have toiled tirelessly, unmindful of the dangers they are exposed to daily. They are an inspiration to all.

The fight is being waged on all fronts and hopefully soon, as inspired by the director general of health, near normalcy could return – provided we don’t let down our guard.

Veloo Saminathan is a former senior civil servant

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