Mind-set Shift Needed to Effectively Deal with Covid-19

Media Statement by Liew Chin Tong, DAP National Political Education Director on 11 January 2021

1) Lockdown must not be the first response but instead last resort. A lockdown now feels more like a knee jerk reaction than anything else.

2) Even with relatively successful rollout of vaccine, Covid-19 would not go away for at least another 9 months and up to 18 more months. Everyone should be told this fact so that they can adjust and adapt without panic or knee jerk reactions.

3) The Health Ministry’s modus operandi that focuses on the daily number of Covid-19 cases is actually quite meaningless. The number is the function of the number of tests we do. If we do more tests and contact tracing, we will have a much bigger number but truthful reflection of the situation.

4) The Health Ministry’s fixation on the daily case number is the wrong KPI (Key Performance Index). 

5) Instead of complaining about the high number of cases we should be more worried that the Health Ministry hasn’t done enough tests and do not have effective contact tracing. Despite having more than 2,000 cases averagely lately, I believe the number of reported cases is far short of what is really the case due to limited testing and contact tracing. 

6) Health Ministry needs to drop the idea that only people with symptoms should be tested. We should make testing at public facilities as easy as possible in which all secondary contacts can get a test if they wish to do so. Not just those in direct contact with Covid-19 positive cases.

7) We should also mass test as many prisoners and as many foreign workers in crowded dormitories. These two main sources of positive cases should be given top national priorities to contain the spread.

8) PCR test results should be speedily available within 24 hours.

9) Antigen tests should be made very affordable and be encouraged to be used as widely as possible.

10) Private health sector should be roped in massively in expanding testing efforts rapidly and at an affordable price for the public.

11) If we test more we will get a higher number for a while. Do not fear. Better to know the true situation than to tricking ourselves with a false reality.

12) NOT all positive cases without symptoms require hospital/medical facility. Instead of sending all asymptotic positive patients to crowded facilities without even proper toilets and other necessities which means they may contract other illnesses along the way, those who have sufficient private spaces without infecting others can be quarantined at home. We need a proper SOP for this.

13) There is no livelihood nor economic recovery if we can’t deal with Covid-19 decisively. The lives versus livelihood dichotomy is false. If the Government has to incur costs to ramp up testing capacity, hire huge number of temporary contact tracers, hire more medical practitioners to help rollout vaccine etc, please spend and spend like no tomorrow, as long as the spending is accountable and with no corruption. If money can limit the spread of Covid-19, spend, don’t save!

Insanity is doing more of the same yet expecting a different result. As far as Covid-19 is concerned, Malaysia needs to do things differently, urgently!

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