By Khin Maung Myint
Since the emergence of the second wave in early September, the numbers of those who contracted the Coronavirus and the numbers of those who succumbed to it have spiked. So also the numbers of those who recovered and discharged from the hospitals are increasing. However, some people are alarmed at the growing numbers of those infected and those who perished. In reality they should take into considerations the increase in those who recovered also. That will lessen their anxieties and worries.
Sometime in March-April this year, I had written a few articles related to the COVID-19 pandemic. My objectives in writing those were to ease the fright among the populace as some were greatly alarmed at the rapid spread of the disease. In those articles I had urged that we should be concerned about the new disease that had gained pandemic proportions, which we had never encountered or heard of in our country before, but shouldn’t be overly alarmed and not to panic.
Unduly alarmed can have adverse consequences
Here, I would like to expound my outlooks expressed in those articles. By being concerned, I meant that we must keep in touch with the information about the disease – it’s causes, it’s symptoms and the “Dos”and “Don’ts” to avoid contracting it. Being thus concerned we will be able to successfully avoid getting infected. However, some were unduly alarmed at the spread of the disease without rationality and getting panicky.
Irrationally alarmed or being panic-stricken could cause undesirable consequences. At the beginning of the first wave and also during the second wave some unduly alarmed persons over-reacted. They fenced off their streets and wards, forbidding outsiders to enter or unauthorized vehicles passing through. In some cases they took the law into their hands and punished those who didn’t abide by the stay home orders or didn’t wear mask. Such actions are the results of undue alarm that caused the people to the point of becoming panicky and irrational.
Don’t just look at the numbers
Stop just looking at the figures. It’s true the numbers of those infected and those who died are increasing. However, if one should observe those figures with logic and optimism there is nothing to be overly or unduly alarmed. With the availability of the rapid diagnostic test kits (RDT) more people can be tested within a short period and more patients are emerging. Though the figures are rising or spiking as some medias misled us to think so, if you observe closely, it will be found that as the numbers of casualty are rising, the numbers of those who are being subjected to the tests daily are also increasing. Naturally being able to test more numbers, more “positive” persons will be tracked down. The more such people are taken off the streets to give treatments, the lesser the chances of spreading.
Here, if the numbers of those tested and the numbers infected are compared and the percentage calculated on a daily basis, surely it will be seen that the infection rate is starting to decline. Again percentagewise, the daily death rates calculated based on the number of daily deaths and the total numbers found infected also are decreasing. Then, if those figures are viewed as percentage in relation to the whole population, it will be very relieving to realize that our country is not among the severely hard hit nations.
Some people are ridiculously saying that our country had surpassed Singapore in terms of the COVID-19 infections, judging only on the number of deaths. What they missed or ignored is that Singapore has ony a population around 6 million people, whereas we have over 50 or almost 60 million. While Singapore has over 50 thousand infections we have just over 30 thousand. In the numbers of death, Singapore has 27, while we have around 600. Here, we should take into consideration that the methods of designating the deaths in that country and ours’ differ. It is understood that in Singapore they didn’t count the COVID patients who passed away as COVID deaths, if they have histories of underlying diseases. However, in our country and for that matter, also in Thailand and many other nations they are considered as COVID casualties.
The “Dos” and “Don’ts”
To overcome the disease and bring it under complete control, every citizen has the duty to participate or get involved in the battle against it. The least they can do is to abide by the orders and instructions laid down by the authorities, By now everyone must know that they should :-
1. stay home as much as possible; avoid going out unless absolutely necessary,
2. wearing of mask is compulsory if they have to unavoidably go outside,
3. wash the hands frequently,
4. avoid crowded places,
5. observe social distancing.
Lack of discipline is to blame
It would be necessary to point out the importance of having discipline. The second wave is being anticipated well before hand and the authorities had warned the citizens to observe the above instructions and to restrict their travels as much as possible. Of course sometimes people have to unavoidably travel for various reasons, mostly for their livings, but if there was discipline the situations would not have got out of control like this. Only if the people who have to travel observed the above mentioned instructions closely it would certainly be not this bad.
During the first wave Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore were being subjected to the infections before our country was hit. The numbers of infected and deaths in those countries were more than in our country at the beginning. Gradually they managed to control those situations and even when we are reeling under the second wave they are being spared until now. It must be because there people are more disciplined.
Our authorities are well qualified and have also gained much experiences in the control of the disease by now, so what could be the the reasons or what factors spared them from the second wave while we are being subjected to? It is quite clear that our people lacked discipline. It is undeniable that people sneaked in and out of our western frontiers to trade with the country to the west where the disease is almost out of control. Also, the failures of some air travellers coming from those area to report to the authorities to enable them to carry out screening and quarantining if necessary. Overland travellers from those area who reached to other parts undetected were also to be blamed.
Also, the reluctance or not being accustomed to queue at the public places, such as – bus stands, train stations, shopping malls, market places, convenient stores, street food stalls and drug stores too should be blamed for the spread in our country. People can be seen crowding and scrambling at such places to get served first and thus are exposed to undesirable body contacts. In the countries mentioned above, as far as I know, people strictly observed the queuing, which they have been doing all along like second nature.
I learned from someone in Thailand that the staffs at such places also strictly enforced the wearing of mask and everyone entering their places are scanned for body temperature properly. However, here some such staffs not only don’t insist customers to wear mask, but some of them don’t wear them either.