The ‘Lockdown’ : Day 36 – Reflections

Disclaimer : The images used in the accompanying text are drawn from the social media. Some may be considered inappropriate and for that, I offer my sincere apologies. That said, we are living in trying times.

Its April 22. 2020 and its Day 36 of the MCO or to use its full term, Movement Control Order. A mouthful that can be but essentially, its the Malaysian version of a lockdown and what it entails in an effort to slow down the spread of the pandemic, Covid-19.

Thus far, the MCO has been in place since March 18th, initially for 14 days til the 31st of March. It has, since then, been extended twice ; from April 1st to April 14th. and after that, from April 15th to April 28th, making it a total of 42 days.

The level of compliance to the MCO was initially estimated at 90%, but it later improved to 95-98%. It has to be accepted that a 100% compliance will always be impossible, for every society will always have its fair share of recalcitrants. But a fine of RM1,000 did do wonders as well.

The day before the MCO was initially put into effect, the stats were 673 confirmed positive cases, and two confirmed Covid19-related deaths. Admittedly, it does not look threatening does it but according to reports from the health authorities, an estimated 5,300 cases of potentials were just outside the radar, which if left unchecked, could spell disaster.

But luckily for Malaysians, thanks to the measures put into place and the sacrifices of the people charged with executing the plan, the stats as of Day 36 (22 April) reads as 5,532 positives and 93 fatalities.

Good news is that out of the 5,532 cases, 3,452 of them had already been deemed recovered, leaving another 1,987 cases still being treated. Another piece of good news is that the daily number of positive cases has been hovering around the 50 mark for the last few days.

These pieces of information did wonders to lift the spirits of everybody involved, from the planners and strategists, to the frontliners, and to the ordinary folk staying indoors following the advice from the health authorities, no end.

Without a doubt, hope is a priceless commodity in this day and age for hope springs eternal, heavy hearts and spirits lifted, as a small glimmer of light appears to be in sight at the end of the long and dark tunnel.

We have been told that we cannot eliminate Covid-19 until a vaccine has been developed, and even that is no guarantee. But at least, for the moment, we can try to rein in the spread of the virus and minimize its effects on our respective communities.

In a lockdown situation like the MCO, two things come to the top of everyone’s mind. First is food supplies. With the government giving assurances that basic and essential food stock would be sufficiently available, the sort of panic buying that was seen elsewhere did not became a feature of the pandemic in Malaysia.

The second biggest worry is the capability for people to have access to funds. Its fine and dandy for those who are gainfully employed. But that does not work for the self employed and the unemployed.

With almost all, if not all, economic activities coming to a halt, these two groups are the hardest hit together with many sectors of the economy. With families to support and bills to pay, the announcement of a financial and economic assistance package to families and households as well as the business owners were very much welcomed and could not have came at a better time.

Its not like there was an abundance of cash to throw about to begin with, But assistance was rendered with the government taking great pains to ensure that the funds were sufficient to be distributed, despite what some parties were so eager to highlight.

Extraordinary times need out-of-the-ordinary measures and these are extraordinary times.

After 36 days of being locked down with your movements restricted, the biggest challenge has to be boredom. Personally, I was so bored that I have expanded my capabilities to understand fully the viewing options available with the cable viewing channels that we have installed.

I am used to watching American TV series especially crime-based series like CSI (wherefore art thou Grissom?), NCIS (Torres v Gibbs with Bishop and McGee as the referees) and the court-based dramas like Bull (ex-NCIS Michael Weatherly dabbling in court science) and they are highly entertaining to me.

But there are times when you need a change of pace, that when you are offered alternatives like the British, German, Italian, and Korean TV series, it is welcomed news indeed.

Series like A Confession (starring Martin Freeman of The Hobbit, The Sherlock Holmes TV series opposite Benedict Cumberpatch), Bancroft (a ranking police detective not only solving murders but also commits them as well; mental she is), Killing Eve (cloak and dagger stuff with MI6, the Russians and a mental chick assassin who is into everything chic), Grantchester (vicars in the countryside helping a detective solve crimes in and around Cambridge of the 50s’ : imagine that. ‘Now hold on vicar’.), Silent Witness (British-style CSI in London), and Agatha Raisin (crime solving PR guru who retires to a village for some peace and quiet: talk about being bored) are all made-for TV British series.

Now for the uninitiated, the stories may unfold a tad too slow for your liking, as compared to their American counterparts but patience has its rewards. It will grow on you and a delight to watch nonetheless especially when it dawns upon you that almost half of the leading characters were killing the other half. As for Grantchester, the vicars are not your typical stereotype of a vicar. Have a watch and you will get my meaning.

But I must admit, watching British TV is an acquired taste, what with the different accents, the slower pace and all. And the acting is superb but a fair bit of warning : the characters are as everyday as they come, warts and all. Its not everybody’s cup of tea, true but then again, wot is luv.

The same goes for the European TV series. The German crime series tend to focus on the lady detectives and such, be they be from Dresden or Berlin for that matter.

Watching these women detectives go about their investigations, I came to realise that my Deutsch is not as good as it was before, as I struggle between the plot unfolding on the screen and the subtitles at the bottom of the screen to better understand the Umgangsprache. Apparently rarely is Hochdeutsch used unless it involves formal establishments but still, it feels like a refresher class for me. Sehr gut ja?

Korean movies can be delightfully entertaining. I mean, the plots may appear similar to the many I have seen before, but there is no less twists and turns to make it definitely Korean and entertaining, if I might add.

As it is when learning a new language, the words that you tend to remember most are the swear words, be they be Korean, German, Spanish or whatever. Most people would swear by that, I think. For an example, the word ‘Idiot’ does not sound half as bad pronounced in English as when in Deutsch. The effect can be quite hilarious.

Anyway. in two days time, on April 24, it will be the first day of the holy month of Ramadhan, when Muslims will start to observe the obligatory fast, from dawn to dusk. It is already expected that this year’s Ramadan will be so different from the Ramadan of previous years. Just how different, we will soon find out.

But as we welcome the holy month of Ramadan, we shall also expect to hear of the government’s decision on the MCO : will it be extended or otherwise.

With the knowledge that countries that were thought to have gotten over the worse of the pandemic are now reporting a surge of new cases and new clusters, it would not come as a surprise if the MCO is extended for another two weeks. In fact, it would not even come as a surprise if the MCO is finally lifted at the end of the month of May or even in June. That is just to be on the safe side.

Optimism based on talks that a vaccine is being developed has to be tempered for one is not ready to be developed until 2021. After all, its not a like a vaccine can be developed overnight, not matter how optimistic one might be.

That being the case, it will present the government and Malaysians a new set of challenges : financially, economically and socially.

That said, we will and need to get through these testing and worrying phase of our lives. For we must. To consider otherwise is not an option.

In the meantime, take care, be safe and stay safe.

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