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The virus … Delta/Omicron and its ‘cousins’


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We were hoping there might be a slowing down of the virus in 2022 but that did not happen.

We all hoped those celebrating the Lunar New Year or even those who took advantage of the long holiday weekend to ‘balik kampung’ (return to their hometowns) or go on a holiday, would be cautious and responsible. Guess not!

Many knew the numbers would rise – and they did. It seems that we go two steps forward and 10 steps back when the numbers rise and fall.

As of 5 February, 32,034 people have died and two were classified as ‘brought in dead’; 65,972 were active cases, with 137 in intensive care and 71 requiring respirator assistance. The total number of cases in Malaysia reached 2.9 million. Shocking, isn’t it?

But, then again, maybe not. We have become so inured to what is happening we often forget all these numbers represent people. Yes, many have survived but what about those who did not?

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin reportedly said, “Fully into Omicron wave. Cases will reach 15k soon.”

The health director-general said “at present, with the RO [rate of transmission] of 1.2, we expect to reach 22,000 towards the end of March.” He reiterated that the public should get their vaccinations and booster shots and comply with public health and social measures.

How frightening are these numbers? Are people no longer scared of the virus?

I read with some amusement that, according to Khairy, the Ministry of Health was “was still conducting risk assessment” for the Johor state election.

Just what is the risk assessment that the ministry is conducting? Are we going to be given some clues? It seems there will be new standard operating procedures for the Johor election because of the Omicron variant. What further changes can be made to these procedures?

Knowing that Omicron will infect around 15,000 to 20,000 people in March, we hope his ‘risk assessment measures’ will be impregnable to the Omicron virus, in light of the Johor election, for the sake of the people.

Hopefully, people will be cautious and keep to social distancing, which actually few bother about anymore.

Politicians should think of the people for a change during the election. Despite being tired of election rhetoric, the people have no choice but to listen to the same political fluff given by the very same politicians who have made a mess of this country.

With these numbers in mind, it was startling to see a chart in The Edge (6 February) on the vast number of Malaysians, in all the states, who have not been vaccinated.

The Ministry of Health must also be aware of Omicron’s ‘cousin’ known as BA.2. There are also some other ‘relatives’, BA.1.1.529 and BA3, which, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), are all “closely related genetically, but each features mutations that could alter how they behave”.

Scientists have begun monitoring the new variant to figure out how contagious it is. Will we see a fourth vaccination or will the vaccinations that we have already received be sufficient?

Eventually, the world has to realise what the WHO has been saying from the very beginning of this pandemic. It has repeatedly said the only way the world will be safe again is when the whole world has been vaccinated and that it is up to the very rich countries to pave the way for this to happen.

Ultimately, it is the pharmaceutical companies, which would surely have made more than enough money by now, to just give the vaccines to poorer countries that cannot or do not have the means to make their own vaccine. Just think of the number of lives these countries and companies could save. After all, it is the right thing to do.

I know there is no such thing as ‘altruism’ in business but, who knows, there might be someone out there who has a soul. Hope springs eternal, as the saying goes.

Jem, an Aliran reader, still cares deeply about Sabah, despite having lived in the peninsula for some time

AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
  1. Tegakkan maruah serta kualiti kehidupan rakyat
  2. Galakkan pembangunan saksama, lestari serta tangani krisis alam sekitar
  3. Raikan kerencaman dan keterangkuman
  4. Selamatkan demokrasi dan angkatkan keluhuran undang-undang
  5. Lawan rasuah dan kronisme
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The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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