Month: March 2020

Truth and the Covid-19 Pandemic

Truth and the Covid-19 Pandemic

Truth and the Covid-19 Pandemic

If there is any blessings arising from this Covid-19 pandemic, it is that it is showing us the importance of truth.This is because we cannot fight this pandemic with denials, lies and distortion of truth. Doing so only makes the situation worse for everyone.

There have been many reports of patients who have history of close contact with known Covid-19 patients denying this very important aspect of their medical history when they go and see their doctors. This resulted in triage error, thus sending them to doctors who are not properly attired and protected. Later, when they are tested positive, they finally admitted but by then it is already too late. Scores of healthcare personnel would have to be quarantined for at least 2 weeks. Sometimes, an entire clinic or department had to be closed down. At a time when we are already short of all kinds of healthcare resources, including skilled personnel, this is nothing short of a disaster.

Another important tool to fight this pandemic is accurate and truthful information. Unfortunately, there have been wide and indiscriminate dissemination of fake news and suspicious information disguised as coming from authentic authorities or experts. This means we will waste valuable time trying to sieve through what can be trusted and what are lies. Accurate information can help us understand the disease better, and make it easier for us to protect ourselves. Fake news are harmful, often giving false sense of security or trigger outright fear or panic.

Lastly, truth is not a privileged but a necessity in healthcare. One may distort reality and still succeed in politics or even business, but it is disastrous and even deathly when applied in healthcare. Little wonder that we now see our politicians, who are used to distorting realities, having a difficult time trying to cope with this pandemic. Their method is useless in this fight.Let the scientists and doctors take the driver’s seat in this fight, and the politicians humbly taking the backseat.

Universal Lessons from the Covid-19 Pandemic

Universal Lessons from the Covid-19 Pandemic

Starting out in Wuhan, China, at the end of 2019, the Covid-19 virus has spread like wildfire all across the globe within just a few months. It is causing tremendous amount of destruction and disruption to our “normal” lifestyle. There are death and suffering everywhere it goes.

However, looking from a more spiritual perspective, this pandemic may be just the prescription humanity needed right now to reset our views and attitudes towards the world and towards each other, for it teaches us a few very fundamental and essential lessons about life.

  1. Accept reality, instead of resisting or fighting it
  2. Humanity must come together as one family
  3. Actions motivated by fear are destructive for everyone

Accept reality, instead of resisting or fighting it

This is examplified by countries that refuse to acknowledge the global nature of this virus, and by leaders who refuse to face the truth or speak the truth, thus causing the situation to become worse rapidly due to inaction or inappropriate actions. The best example of this is Donald Trump and the way he trivialized it until it became too late to act. Precious early opportunities to contain the spread were missed because of this refusal to acknowledge reality.

Humanity must come together as one family

Precious early opportunities were also missed in China in the early stage of the outbreak in Wuhan, also due to the refusal of their leaders to acknowledge it. However, when the outbreak became apparent, the Chinese government went all out to contain it and prevent its spread. During this time, the rest of the world simply watch and do nothing to help. Our attitude seems to be — it’s your problem, not mine. We should have learned from the Ebola outbreak that early concerted global effort can successfully contain a serious outbreak and prevent it from spreading further.

In addition, when a lockdown was ordered in Wuhan, many of their inhabitants willfully “escaped” the lockdown and travelled overseas, thus spreading the virus to other countries, such as Singapore, Malaysia, the Phillipines, Thailand, etc. This created new clusters elsewhere, making it even harder to be contained, and effectively exporting the virus to the rest of the world. This selfish attitude is the actual cause of the pandemic.

However, this selfish attitude is not exclusive only to the Chinese in Wuhan. We see this selfish attitude in other countries and communities as well. In South Korea, the virus appears to have been well contained until participants in a religious congregation started spreading it elsewhere within and without the country. To date, many of the participants have still refused to come forward voluntarily to be tested. Similar challenges were seen in Malaysia.

In order to successful fight this pandemic, human beings must consciously and intentionally come together as one big family to think and care for each other, instead of acting through selfish impulses.

Actions motivated by fear are destructive for everyone

As we can see from the above, the Covid-19 virus is not the real enemy. The real enemy is fear. Fear and actions motivated by fear are the actual causes of this pandemic.

Fear is seen in many forms. Selfishness is one that we have discussed. Another equally destructive one is denial. The outbreak has shown us many examples of how people in denial of having the Covid-19 infection actually put themselves and their loved ones at risk, as well as their community and the healthcare frontliners working to save them. Everyone of us stand to lose when denial is at work.

This Covid-19 pandemic clearly shows us the negative consequences of actions motivated by fear.

On the other hand, we also see examples of positive consequences of actions motivated by love. We see healthcare workers facing the virus head on, putting themselves and their loved ones at risk so that we and our loved ones can stay safe. They are the real superheroes in our lives.

Covid-19: Understanding the rationale for a lockdown

Covid-19: Understanding the rationale for a lockdown

As the Covid-19 pandemic spread around the world, more and more governments have taken the drastic step of locking down their countries. However, for this measure to work effectively, it is important to understand the rationale for a lockdown against the Covid-19 virus. Otherwise, the measure may actually work against the very purpose of the lockdown, which is to drastically reduce the spread of the virus within the country.

The goal of a lockdown is to reduce human to human interactions to the bare minimum. Looking at the above diagram, you can see how powerful it is when social distancing is properly implemented. This gives us two immediate benefits.

The first benefit is that it immediately reduces the number of individuals infected by the virus. However, for overall disease control, it is the second benefit that is even more important. This second benefit is that by slowing down the spread of the virus, it allows the country’s healthcare agencies and frontliners time to manage contact tracing, testing, isolation and treatment without being overwhelmed by the sheer numbers.

When we allow the virus to spread fast, the frontliners are just too overwhelmed by the number of people crowding clinics and hospitals, waiting to be screened and tested. This stresses the healthcare workers, quickly depleting testing kits, personal protective equipments (PPE) and patience.

There is not a single country in the world that has unlimited healthcare resources to tackle this pandemic. Therefore, it becomes important for them to make the best use of whatever resources they may have at their disposal. Test kits are limited. PPE are also limited. Doctors and nurses are also limited. Furthermore, this pandemic will likely last many months. Stressed healthcare workers will become careless, and more will be infected by the virus, thus reducing the very people we need to fight this pandemic.

Thus, when a lockdown is in place, the people must work together with the government and all its agencies in order to overcome this pandemic. The first thing to do is not to panic.

Testing for Covid-19 Infection

For now, the guideline for testing is if a person has symptoms such as fever and cough, AND has a close contact with someone who is known to have the Covid-19 infection. Likewise, if you are symptomatic after returning from countries such as China, South Korea, Japan, Iran and Italy (or other known clusters) in the last 2 weeks, you can get yourself tested at a government facility near you. This includes being near a known local cluster, such as a family with a confirmed Covid-19 infection, or in a congregation or gathering with known Covid-19 infection. There is no need to see your GP as they will also send you to be tested at the nearest government clinic.

If you are without any symptoms, but have close contact with someone known to be infected with the virus or you have just returned from the above mentioned countries in the last 2 weeks, you should quarantine yourself for 14 days. During this self-quarantine, you should regularly check your temperature and well-being, and to also practice distancing yourself from others, particularly the elderly. Anytime you start to develop symptom, you should get yourself check at the nearest government clinic.

This self-quarantine is a form of social responsibility. You may not be sick as you are asymptomatic, but you may still be carrying the virus in your body and therefore has the potential to spread it to others. By self-quarantine for 2 weeks, you help to reduce the risk of spreading the virus without overwhelming the frontliners.

Another point to note is that when the lockdown is in place, you should stay put at wherever you are, instead of going back to your hometown or kampung. The reason for this is that, like the asymptomatic carrier, you may not know whether you have the virus in your body or not. Thus, if you are a carrier and you return to your hometown, you are helping the virus to spread to a location that may initially be free from the virus. This will create a new hotspot and centre of spread for the virus, worsening the spread instead of limiting it.

So, let us all come together as one and help each other overcome this virus by staying at home as much as possible, and reducing human to human interactions and activities. Also, take care to practice good personal hygiene with frequent hand washing and social distancing.

Last but not least, give a compassionate thought to the frontline doctors and nurses facing this menace head on, risking their lives and the lives of their loved ones, to help keep us and our loved ones safe.

How do I know if I have Covid-19 infection?

How do I know if I have Covid-19 infection?

With the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, it is understandable if you are concern and wonder if you have the infection and not know about it, since some people may be asymptomatic. On the other hand, your healthcare facilities can easily get overwhelmed with unnecessary screening and testings.

So, what should you do if you are not sure whether you may have the Covid-19 infection or not? Well, here is a simple and quick method to assess your risk by yourself. It is not foolproof but it can be used as a first step to assessing your own risk of getting the infection.

Are you at risk of having the Covid-19 infection?

If, after doing the self assessment above, you think you may have the Covid-19 infection, here is what you need to do next.

So, if you suspect that you may have the Covid-19 infection:

  1. Isolate yourself from others
  2. Call the Covid-19 Assessment Centre (CAC) near you. [Here is a list of CAC in Selangor] If they are too busy (due to the surge), or unavailable to you, call your own doctor for advice.
  3. Make arrangement for a rt-PCR test
Covid-19 “Lockdown” in Malaysia

Covid-19 “Lockdown” in Malaysia

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced many countries to take drastic actions to slow down its spread. The Malaysian government has announced a Movement Control Order, beginning from 18 March 2020 to 31 March 2020.

Below is a summary of the order:

The main purpose of this order is to restrict human movements and interactions. The rationale is that by reducing human movements and interactions, we can slow down the spread of the Covid-19 viruses. This will buy time for the local healthcare agencies to track down, quarantine and treat those with the viruses. Without this step, our local healthcare workers and resources are just overwhelmed by the rapidly increasing numbers.

This is undeniably a drastic step, and will definitely affect our economy negatively, but it is a necessity to avert an even more serious situation if not done. Therefore, it is in the interest of all Malaysians to come together as one to fight this Covid-19 contagion.

Here are some simple personal protection measures to consider:

  1. Avoid crowd – This is by far the best way to slow down the spread of the virus., thus the rationale for the implementation of the Movement Control Order. So, avoid panic buying. It is in such crowded places that the viruses can easily spread.
  2. Practice Social Distancing. Give a space of at least 1 meter between yourself and another. Actually, the further the better.
  3. Wash your hands frequently. Since the virus is spread through water droplets in the air, it can land on just about any surfaces. Most important to notice are door knobs, table tops, hand shakes, close contact with another. Frequent hand washing will eliminate the virus from your hands.
  4. Avoid touching your mouth, eyes and nose, as these moist areas are most vulnerable to the entry of the virus into the body.
  5. Wear mask appropriately. Surgical masks are made to prevent the wearer from spreading viruses and bacterias to others. So, if you are feeling unwell or if you are afraid that you might be carrying the virus without showing any symptoms, then wear a mask to prevent spreading to others. Also, the type of masks used is important. Only 3-ply surgical masks, N95 and N99 masks are known to be effective in filtering the virus. The rest are questionable. (Click here for a demo on face masks)

Finally, the Covid-19 infection is most serious to the elderly with underlying illnesses. Therefore, be considerate of the elderly at home and elsewhere. Keep them safe.

Movement Control Order 2020 Covid-19

Frequently Asked Questions on Movement Control Order (Malay version)

Frequently Asked Questions on Movement Control Order (English version)