Covid-19 calls for vigilance, self-discipline | Daily Express Online
It has infected the whole world, created vast health problems. To top it off, it gave some of the worst economic headaches of modern times.
The mighty United States and western countries have been hit hard, their economies have entered negative growth in 2021. Poor countries with few financial resources have suffered huge health problems from lack of vaccines and medical expertise .
The UN has called on vaccine-producing countries to help, but its appeal has mostly fallen on deaf ears from big pharma in the US and UK. Only China went the extra mile to help.
China is the only major country to have achieved the best control of the pandemic and experienced positive economic growth in 2021. China has also been able to help poor countries the most by donating more than 2 billion doses of vaccines.
Some observations on the pandemic
Observation 1: the last strain is highly contagious but has a less severe effect. The trend, including Sabah, is that although the number of infected people has increased significantly, serious cases requiring hospitalization are very minimal. In Sabah, more than 99% of cases are category 1 and 2 with mild symptoms.
Finding 2: Many countries, including the most developed ones, have failed to contain the pandemic.
Finding 3: Most countries have decided to reduce direct and indirect cash grants to their citizens.
Finding 4: Most countries, despite rising record numbers of infections, are considering relaxing SOPs and opening their borders.
How did Sabah cope?
I would say excellent. Masidi and his team have handled the pandemic very well. Sabah’s cases rose to more than 5,000 a day at the peak. But look at Singapore where there are first-class medical facilities and a world-class medical management system. Its highest daily count reached over 26,000, which is the highest to date.
I highlighted Singapore because its population size is quite similar to that of Sabah. Given Sabah’s physical size and less than ideal infrastructure, Sabah’s performance is impressive. Congratulations Masidi and his team for being much better than Singapore.
“Lives instead of livelihoods? or “Lives and Livelihoods?”
National governments around the world with limited resources to purchase vaccines and provide financial assistance are being stretched over the edge. The debate over “lives before livelihoods” or “lives and livelihoods? are constantly on the minds of policy makers. These observations are quite clear:
[a] The number of cases continues to rise at an alarming rate. Fortunately, the severity is quite mild with surprisingly low numbers requiring hospital treatment and fatalities.
[b] Many Western countries, forced to maintain their livelihoods, have decided to relax their SOPs. There is strong opposition against SOPs, in particular the imposition of mask-wearing like the ongoing protest in Canada where the Prime Minister has resorted to declaring an emergency.
[c] In a very relevant but seldom discussed way, US-led national governments have resorted to printing excessive amounts of new currency to provide relief to their affected populations. The influx of new currencies was not accompanied by productivity, triggered severe inflation, the worst in 30 years.
It is now obvious that most governments cannot afford to “live above the means of subsistence”. The reality of their declining economies dictates that they embrace “lives and livelihoods” – a compromise between life and livelihoods. Simply put, the government is asking people to learn how to live with the pandemic.
“Lives and livelihoods” and evolving economic changes.
Inflationary pressure, limited financial resources to keep people without income are simply too heavy a burden. Malaysia and Sabah are no exception. Cash payments and grants will eventually be reduced and decreased. The SOP will be relaxed and the borders will be open to maintain economic activities.
To that end, the economy will evolve and adopt, and so will the people. Hence the proliferation of internet business and related or support services, with housewives’ home baking becoming a major business activity.
It realigned the supply chain, creating bottlenecks in logistics and driving up costs. New businesses are created.
The economic structure is changing. Eventually, it may even shift economic power between countries in favor of those who can cope. The less agile countries will suffer.
Self-discipline is vital.
Many western countries are facing unprecedented problems from this pandemic for the simple reason that their citizens are unwilling to comply with simple SOPs like vaccinations, wearing masks in appropriate places and maintaining social distancing. .
In Asia where self-discipline is more pronounced, the pandemic is less severe. The Chinese government which practices covid zero tolerance strictly has the best control.
The practice of self-discipline will be the most critical factor for economic survival in any society or country.
The Sabahans must maintain their vigilance and self-discipline.
As Sabah has achieved a positive growth rate of 3.8% and many improvements in the economy in 2021, the people of Sabah must maintain this momentum. Vigilance and self-discipline are key to keeping this pandemic at an acceptable level and for the economy to continue to grow.
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