Comment | By Wong Chun Wai

MCO extension: A bitter but critical pill

FINALLY, the announcement that we had been bracing for – a two-week extension of the movement control order just as we passed the one-week mark.

It has not come as a surprise to most of us as the number of Covid-19 cases has continued to go up.

The Prime Minister, in making the extension announcement, also revealed that the trend was expected to continue for a while before we see a decline in the number of new cases.

It is a good decision by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, although many businesses had hoped that this extension would not happen.

It is a painful decision as small businesses will collapse with a loss of jobs as their cash reserves run dry. It would just be impossible for many to sustain their business.

Most businessmen have expressed their fear that many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will not last six months if their sales continue to drop.

For ordinary wage earners, who are still getting their salaries while working at home, they know it’s not a paid holiday. They may not be able to grapple with the enormous problems of their employers who are juggling the bills now, with most facing zero revenue.

For daily wage earners, especially drivers and construction workers, a month without income is a nightmare.

But saving lives is now the priority. Malaysians are entering the most crucial period where we must break down the transmission chain.

This is our last chance. This is the only tiny window that we have to ensure that most of us will get out of this safe, or to put it bluntly, alive.

As at noon today (March 25), the number of people who had been infected by the virus reached 1,796, with the death toll now at 17. The numbers have continued to rise.

The extension of the MCO will mean not enough has been done and if the trend continues, after this extra two weeks, Malaysia will need even more stringent measures, including a total lockdown or curfew.

On Tuesday (March 24), Sarawak became the first state to impose a curfew from 7pm to 7am.

The regulation will last until March 31, and is an additional and stricter measure being enforced by the state government to stem the spread of Covid-19, which has claimed five lives in the state.

The coming weeks will be a rough time for all of us. But surely much more for our hospital staff, who are logging in long hours and working in extreme conditions as they cope with an average of 100 cases a day.

It is a war that we cannot lose. Losing is not an option. Let’s remind ourselves again, that the third wave will be as big as a tsunami – and these are not my words but those of Health director-general Datuk Seri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

The last thing this country needs, at this critical juncture, are Malaysians who post racist and insensitive videos and comments on social media.

They need to be arrested or to get psychiatric help but luckily for them, we have bigger worries such as fighting the killer virus.

The authorities will get back to you once this is done, as it’s another disease we need to tackle.