PublishedJul 26, 2020, 5:00 am SGT
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The content of the article:
A price too heavy to pay
Sin Chew Daily, Malaysia
The numbers of daily new Covid-19 cases have remained relatively low since Malaysia successfully flattened the curve.
Consequently, the government has implemented the recovery movement control order (MCO) that will last to the end of August, allowing more business sectors to reopen for business while schools reopen in stages.
Unfortunately, a handful of irresponsible individuals have defied the SOPs. As a result, we have seen the emergence of 13 new infection clusters since July 7. The situation is set to deteriorate if it is not put under control.
A lot of countries in the world successfully contained the coronavirus outbreaks within their boundaries, but soon after they opened up their economies again, they saw a rebound in new infections and had no choice but to tighten their lockdown policies again. The situation remains challenging in the United States and Brazil, while Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong have seen a drastic increase in new cases. This shows that the pandemic is indeed far from being over and we simply cannot afford to be any more complacent.
It is not hard to see that Malaysians have grown lax and even numb about fighting the dreaded virus. The emergence of a new cluster at an old folks’ home in Kluang is indeed alarming.
The management of the old folks’ home must look into this seriously while the authorities must closely inspect all establishments nationwide to ensure cleanliness and hygiene in a bid to stop any cluster in such homes.
If the outbreak deteriorates and MCO is re-enacted, all our past efforts will go down the drain.
We all must have the determination and resolution to fight the battle until it is won.
Halting the virus spread
China Daily (Asia), Hong Kong
The worsening Covid-19 situation in Hong Kong, as evidenced by a high level of confirmed new infections persisting for nearly two weeks and an overstretched public healthcare sector running out of isolation beds, explains the need for the special administrative region government to step up quarantine measures.
Theoretically, the more draconian the quarantine rules are, the more effective they are in containing the spread of the virus. But arguably, the health authority has to walk a tightrope when weighing options. It has to strike a very delicate balance.
Stress caused by months of social distancing has reportedly contributed to an alarming deterioration in mental health among Hong Kong residents; weariness of social distancing and mask-wearing has also been reported recently.
The health authority had reasons to be cautious about introducing tighter social distancing rules until the latest flare-up, known also as the third wave of the Covid-19 outbreak. There is also the need to avoid further suffocating the already withering economy with stricter social distancing measures that essentially dampen economic activities.
But the rapid deterioration in the pandemic situation over the past couple of weeks has tilted the balance towards the side of caution. There is a stronger reason for Hong Kong to take the short-term hit of more draconian quarantine measures than risking a protracted period of a massive Covid-19 outbreak, which is why the health authorities have been stepping up quarantine and social distancing measures over the past two weeks – first on July 8, then on July 9 and July 22.
The least every resident can do is to avoid gatherings and to wear a mask whenever one is in a public place.
Take a planned approach
The Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan
The spread of the novel coronavirus has forced prefectural governments to sharply increase their expenditures.
It is hoped that prefectural governments will be prepared for a second wave of infections in a planned manner.
In dealing with the first wave of infections, there was a big difference between the Tokyo metropolitan government, which is financially strong, and other prefectural governments.
The metropolitan government quickly decided to provide up to ¥1 million ($13,000) in financial assistance in the form of cooperation funds, which won the understanding of business operators. In neighbouring Kanagawa Prefecture, the provision of cooperation funds stood at up to ¥300,000. Some prefectural governments did not provide cooperation funds because they prioritised improving the medical system. The Osaka prefectural government evenly split the cost with municipalities.
Prefectural governments must not hesitate to take necessary measures, such as asking businesses to suspend operations, on the grounds of fiscal difficulty. There is a fear that the virus epidemic could become further prolonged. Hopefully, measures will be implemented in serious consideration of their purposes and effects, rather than ending up as careless lavish spending.
There’s no vaccine yet
Eight months after the first case of Covid-19 was reported in China, the fast-spreading, potentially fatal coronavirus is still on the rampage.
But as some countries celebrate their success in curtailing transmission, fears of a “second wave” of infections are very real.
People walk under a billboard portraying gratitude to frontline workers fighting against the spread of the Covid-19, in Rawalpindi in the Punjab province of Pakistan. Many countries have opted for targeted lockdowns – as seen in Pakistan.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
In the absence of a vaccine, it is inevitable that Covid-19 will spread as restrictions end and people leave their homes.
Early indications of a second wave are coming from Spain, France and even Australia which had celebrated taming the virus and reducing daily infections.
The likelihood of any country being coronavirus-free, without strict restrictions in place or an effective vaccine, is non-existent.
Several countries have decided against mass lockdowns due to the economic and psychological effects of one-size-fits-all restrictions. Hence, many leaders prefer targeted lockdowns – as seen in Pakistan – where hot spots with high infection rates will be locked down.
The key to these policies lies in mass testing. Without a high number of daily tests, it will be impossible to assess how quickly cases are rising and what level of risk Covid-19 carriers pose to members of the public. Mass testing, systematic data gathering, the enforcement of SOPs and improved hospital support appear to be the only way to protect citizens.
• The View From Asia is a compilation of articles from The Straits Times’ media partner Asia News Network, a grouping of 24 news media titles.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 26, 2020, with the headline ‘Virus still on a rampage’. Print Edition | Subscribe